The 2020-21 UEFA Champions League has reached the semi-final stages, and Real Madrid finds itself in the mix once again. English Premier League outfit Chelsea await Real in the semi-finals, the winner of that two-legged match taking on the winner of the Manchester City versus Paris St. Germain clash.
Real Madrid is the most successful team in Champions League history. They have reached the final, including when the competition was called the European Cup, a record 16 times, with 13 of those finals resulting in Real lifting the coveted trophy. It is no wonder why the online bookmaker at Sportsbettingsites.com has installed Real as the tournament favourites.
The recent announcement of Europe’s biggest football clubs agreeing to form a breakaway European Super League threatens to overshadow what should be a fantastic game of football when Chelsea visit the Bernabeu on April 27 for the first of two semi-final legs. Real are one of the 12 European clubs who signed up for the breakaway league, which faces an unprecedented backlash from football fans. Chelsea, Real’s Champions League semi-final opponents, are another club to have signed on the dotted line.
Real go into this fixture as narrow favourites despite an indifferent season. Los Blancos find themselves second in La Liga, three points behind city rivals Atletico Madrid. They are only two points ahead of third-placed FC Barcelona, who has a game in hand on Real.
Real Have Not Lost For 15 Consecutive Games
Zinedine Zidane‘s men have not lost a game since they fell to a shock 1-2 defeat at home to Levante on January 30. Eleven wins and four draws in their last 15 fixtures is good form. However, that only tells part of the story because they drew their last two games 0-0.
Scoring goals has been an issue this season, at least by Real’s lofty standard. Only Karim Benzema, with 25 goals in 37 appearances, has managed to break into double figures. Marco Asensio, Casemiro, and Vinicius Junior each have six goals to their name.
Real’s attacking prowess has been hampered by former Chelsea star Eden Hazard spending most of the campaign on the sidelines. The €100 million summer signing has only managed 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals.
Chelsea has not reached the Champions League final since the London club won the competition in 2008. That is a long time for a club the size of Chelsea, and a fact new manager Thomas Tuchel wants to rectify. Tuchel guided his former club, Paris St. Germain, to a Champions League runner-up finish in the 2019-20 season.
Tuchel took over at the helm following the mid-season sacking of former Chelsea player Frank Lampard. He is a master tactician who loves to tinker with his starting line-ups; he made 39 changes to his side in the 10 Premier League games between January and March 2021. Whatever Tuchel is doing behind the scenes is working because Chelsea has won 13 of the 19 games under Tuchel’s stewardship, drawing four and losing only twice. Chelsea has only conceded nine goals during those 19 fixtures.
A Lack of Bite in Attack
Like Real, Chelsea has struggled for goals at certain times this season. Chelsea paid €55 million to RB Leipzig for the services of German international striker Timo Werner, but he has failed to live up to his reputation or price tag. Werner only has two goals in his last 34 games in all competitions and is currently 13 matches without finding the back of the net.
Werner’s lack of goals has resulted in Tuchel experimenting with playing with a “false nine”, essentially playing without a recognized striker. He is doing this despite having the talented Tammy Abraham and World Cup winner Olivier Giroud waiting in the wings.
This Champions League semi-final clash could be a low-scoring, nervy affair that needs extra time and penalties to decide the winner. It is also a clash that could be for nothing if both clubs insist on creating their breakaway competition because UEFA has threatened to ban any team that joins the European Super League, which would make a mockery of this competition.