UEFA Champions League Semifinals Preview: Real Madrid at Chelsea.
The second leg of the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League concludes on Wednesday, with Ream Madrid traveling to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on the CBS Sports Network at 3 PM ET.
These two teams settled for a 1-1 draw in the first leg last Wednesday in the Spanish capital. Christian Pulisic gave the Blues the lead 14 minutes into the match. Karim Benzema leveled the score 15 minutes later.
Real Madrid must score in the second leg. Los Blancos advances to the Champions League final with a victory since that assures an aggregate score win. They can also advance with a draw where at least two goals are scored as two away goals secures the first tie-breaker. A 1-1 result after regulation time would force extra time with the aggregate score tied at two goals apiece and deadlocked with one away goal. If both teams score in extra time, but the score remains tied after the two after the two 15-minute halves, Real Madrid wins via the away goals tie-breaker. A best-of-five penalty shootout resolves the match if the extra time goes scoreless.
Los Blancos followed up their midweek draw with a 2-0 victory against Osasuna on Saturday. Eden Militao broke a scoreless game at the 76th-minute mark before Casemiro added the second goal four minutes later. Manager Zinedine Zidane’s team remains tied with Barcelona for second place in La Liga, two points behind Atletico Madrid, currently at the top of the table.
Real Madrid advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League with their 3-1 aggregate score victory against Liverpool in the quarterfinals. Vinicius Junior scored twice, and Marco Asensio added a goal in their 3-1 win in the first leg at home on April 6th. A scoreless draw in the second match at Anfield Stadium in the second leg on April 14th secured their advancement.
Zinedine hopes to have captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy available to fortify their backline for this match. Forward Eden Hazard returned to the pitch over the weekend. Center back Raphael Varane is a doubt after suffering an abductor injury in the Osasuna match. Right backs Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez are also injured.
Chelsea comes off a 2-0 victory at home against Fulham on Saturday. Kai Havertz opened the scoring ten minutes into the match. He secured his brace four minutes into the second half. They are in fourth place in the English Premier League, three points ahead of West Ham United, and they are a distant 19 points behind Manchester City for first place at the EPL table. They trail Leicester City by two points for third place.
The Blues reached the semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate victory against FC Porto in the quarterfinals. Chelsea won the first leg, 2-0, at Stamford Bridge on April 7th. Mason Mount scored the opening goal in the 32nd minute before Ben Chilwell added the second goal at the 85-minute mark. They lost the second leg at Porto, 1-0, on April 13th, but the Dragons' late goal was not enough to sudden death.
Since Thomas Tuchel took over the managerial duties from Frank Lampard in late January, the Blues have only lost twice in 21 matches. The former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund skipper deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation that improved the defensive structure of this team. Seventeen of the games under Tuchel have been clean sheets. They advanced to the championship game of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory against Manchester City on April 17th.
Chelsea will be without midfielder Maceo Kovacic who continues to be out with a thigh injury.
The winner advances to play Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul on May 29th. BookMaker lists Chelsea as a -0.25 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.25.
Computer prediction: Chelsea 1 Real Madrid 1