Real Madrid and Chelsea will meet for the very first time in the Champions League and the first-leg of their semi-final tie at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Tuesday is likely to be a game of fine margins.
It is hard to believe that these two heavyweights of European football have never previously met in the continent’s premier club competition, with their last competitive meeting coming in the UEFA Super Cup 23 years ago, when a Gus Poyet goal handed Chelsea a narrow 1-0 win.
Indeed, Chelsea are unbeaten in all three of their previous meetings with Real, as they also claimed a 2-1 success when the two teams met in the 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, all be it that victory came via a replay after the original match finished 1-1.
Those past results may have little bearing on Tuesday’s first-leg, but the current Chelsea squad should take confidence from their recent domestic victories over Manchester City and West Ham, while they have not tasted defeat away from home in any competition since mid-January.
The Blues look good value to win Tuesday’s match at
27/20, although Real are the most decorated side in the competition’s history for a reason and they have won the opening leg in nine of their last 10 Champions League knockout ties.
Zinedine Zidane’s side are available at
7/5 to secure another first-leg victory on Tuesday, while the draw at 43/20 must also be considered.
Defences on Top in Madrid
Chelsea’s improvement under Thomas Tuchel has been clear to see, with the Blues having lost just two of their 21 matches since the German succeeded Frank Lampard in the Stamford Bridge dugout back in January.
Tuchel has built much of that success on a strong defence, as Chelsea have kept 16 clean-sheets since his arrival, while they have conceded just once during this year’s Champions League knockout stages and kept back-to-back clean-sheets against Atletico Madrid in the last 16.
That impressive defensive record has come at a slight cost, as the Blues have not exactly been prolific at the other end of the pitch under Tuchel, netting just twice across their last four matches.
It has been a similar story for Real of late, as they have kept four clean-sheets on the spin, although they have also failed to score in three of those games.
Los Blancos have become very reliant on Karim Benzema when it comes to scoring goals, with the Frenchman having notched 27 for the season already, while no other player in Real’s squad has netted more than six times across all competitions.
All the signs certainly seem to suggest that Tuesday’s match in Madrid could prove cagey, with under 1.5 goals looking an intriguing option at
Stalemate Would be no Surprise
Given the defensive strength of these two sides, it would be no surprise to see them cancel each other out on Tuesday.
Chelsea have been involved in five draws under Tuchel, with four of those matches finishing 0-0, most recently their goalless clash with Brighton in the Premier League last midweek.
Goalless draws have also been a theme for Real over recent weeks, as three of their last four matches have ended 0-0, including Saturday’s home encounter with Real Betis in La Liga.
With a second-leg to come at Stamford Bridge next week, both sides may be content to settle for a 0-0 draw, especially if the game remains goalless heading into the second-half, as a fear of losing could supersede any desire to go on and win the game.
A 0-0 draw on Tuesday can be backed at
23/4, and if that result does come in, then it will leave it as anyone’s guess which team will ultimately make in through to the final on May 29.
*All odds correct at time of writing