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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Chelsea | UEFA Champions League

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Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

There is an unexplainable sense of security as a Real Madrid fan heading into a UEFA Champions League Matchday as they gear up to take on Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

Los Blancos find themselves pitted against one of the Premier League’s biggest sides over the years, yet, one knows that very few sides in world football can claim to be better than Carlo Ancelotti’s side in knockout football.

The first of two legs will be played on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu. Stamford Bridge will host the second leg later this month, making it imperative for the Merengues to utilise their home advantage first.

With the Copa del Rey almost in the bag, a big win on Wednesday could help Real Madrid put a foot into the Champions semi-finals and complete their dream of two trophies at the end of the season.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Chelsea.

1. The one that matters

Real Madrid’s collapse in La Liga from January is a matter of concern, yet is a blessing in disguise for the squad.

Carlo Ancelotti may insist that the league title race is still not over and that his side will fight for it until the very end. Yet, it is clear that the men in white see La Liga as a tertiary priority this season with significantly more focus placed on the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.

Los Blancos dropped three vital points against Villarreal at the weekend but the defeat was not talked about enough for the same reason. Nestles between the fixtures against Barcelona and Chelsea, the league game was given a pass.

Now Ancelotti’s men face the real challenge and the one they are expected to relish. Taking on Frank Lampard’s vulnerable Blues, the Spanish champions are the favourites to run away to a lead on Wednesday.

The first reaction in the dressing room after the defeat to Villarreal was a pledge by the players that the result on Saturday would not affect their confidence and momentum midweek. That desire and belief, needless to say, will be a must if the defending champions are to triumph over Chelsea.

2. The Reece James situation

A key battle. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Real Madrid suffering against Villarreal was pioneered by one man on the opposition’s right wing. Samuel Chukwueze, the latest transfer target for the Merengues, smoked through the hosts’ weak left wing on the night and gave Nacho Fernandez a run for his money.

Yet, the story was part of a recurring theme in Real Madrid games. Ferland Mendy’s injury has left the left-back position in a situation of worry and the manager has turned to Eduardo Camavinga and Nacho to fill his boots.

Against Chelsea, the battle down the left will be more important than ever.

Chelsea right-back and Real Madrid target Reece James is expected to start down the flank against Los Blancos and the matchups against him will decide the outcome of the game.

For starters, Vinicius Jr will go head to head against the 23-year-old who averages over ten defensive actions per game on the night. The Brazilian is by far the hosts’ most creative outlet and it will be a matter of concern if he cannot escape from the Englishman’s clutches.

Simultaneously, however, Chelsea’s right-back boasts of searing pace and stamina and is capable of generating devastating counter-attacks down the wing. With Ancelotti’s side having well-documented struggles at left-back, the battle becomes interesting.

3. The third attacker

Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema are no strangers to playing against Chelsea. The duo has started in all four games between the two sides in the past two years with the Frenchman even scoring five goals in the process.

Come Wednesday, the Brazilian-French combination is expected to start again but there is a lot of discussion over who should join them in the final third. Ancelotti realistically has two options on the table – Rodrygo Goes and Federico Valverde.

Valverde started both legs of the UCL Quarterfinal against the London-based side last season and has been Ancelotti’s first choice to fill the third spot in attack this season. There are, however, two problems surrounding his case.

Valverde’s drop-off in form in recent games has been concerning. While the Uruguayan international is still key in buildups and is secure with the ball at his feet, he no longer shows the X-factor in front of the goal he boasted of earlier in the season.

Moreover, the youngster is not in the best state of mind after the events with Alex Baena on Saturday and could face serious sanctions for his physical assault. Ancelotti has confirmed that Valverde would play a part on Wednesday, but it remains to be seen if it is as a starter.

The most appealing option other than the midfielder is Rodrygo who is slowly making a case to be a regular starter. The youngster may not be a traditional right-winger but his ability to make runs into the box and his impeccable final touch give him a use case.

There may even be a possibility that Rodrygo gets the nod on the right flank while Valverde partners Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield as he did against Barcelona last week.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mrs Vahide Barnes

    April 13, 2023 at 1:46 am

    Chelsea as a team was amazingly so bad. I cant believe that the coach kept #11,(instead of having Plusik play at the left wing) who was so awful after missing an easy goal in early game. How can so many players in Chelsea miss so many passes? If they think that playing expensive players will win them games, they are so mistaken. So far,all they did was loose games.

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Features

Euro 2024: Rating every Real Madrid player’s performance at the tournament

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Euro 2024 came to an end last night with Spain being crowned the champions of Europe thanks to a 2-1 victory over England in Berlin.

Considering how well La Roja played throughout the tournament and their performance in the finals on Sunday night, they were the deserved winners of the trophy.

With Spain lifting the trophy, Real Madrid veteran defender Dani Carvajal added another title to his already successful campaign finishing 2023/24 as a La Liga, Champions League, and EURO winner.

Nacho and Joselu, who were still contracted with Real Madrid when the Euro started, joined Carvajal on that list while Jude Bellingham finished on the losing side.

Real Madrid had a total of 13 players representing them at the Euros in Germany and not all managed to make a solid impression. Here are how the Merengues’ stars fared at the European Championships.

Spain

Dani Carvajal: 8/10

The Spanish right-back was one of the stars of the show at the Euros, playing an integral role in La Roja’s success. Carvajal kicked off his first Euro with a goal in the opening game against Croatia and continued to be a reliable player for Spain both in defence and attack.

Carvajal forged a strong partnership with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal on the right flank and even played a key role in the team’s opening goal against England in the final.

Nacho: 6/10

Technically no longer a Real Madrid player, Nacho was still contracted with the club when the Euros kicked off. Starting in the opener against Croatia, he helped Spain to a clean sheet against Croatia.

The veteran defender also put in solid shifts in the quarter-final and semi-final ties against Germany and France, respectively and helped see out the game against England last night.

Joselu: N/A

Behind the likes of Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal in the pecking order, Joselu, who left Real Madrid at the end of June, played just 90 minutes across two games.

England

Jude Bellingham: 6.5/10

Failed to deliver. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having enjoyed a dream season with Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham was unable to replicate those performances for England.

While he did score two crucial goals, including a stunning bicycle kick to keep his team alive against Slovakia, and assisted Cole Palmer’s strike in the finals, his overall display left a lot to be desired.

France

Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

Real Madrid’s newest acquisition, all eyes were on Mbappe heading into the Euros. And even though France made it as far as the semi-finals, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the expectations with a nose injury impacting his displays.

Mbappe finished the tournament with a solitary goal and two assists, but as he admitted after the defeat to Spain, his Euro will go down as a failure.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6/10

Making a return from injury during the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder was a solid presence in the centre of the park for France alongside N’Golo Kante without really standing out a great deal.

The 24-year-old provided strength and stability in midfield for Les Bleus and even tried to get upfield in matches. But his shooting from distance was way off the mark.

Not up to the mark. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga: 5/10

Starting just one of France’s six games and featuring as a substitute in three more, Eduardo Camavinga was not a major presence for Didier Deschamps’ side at the Euros which came as a surprise.

The Real Madrid starlet did show glimpses of quality when he did get a chance but not enough for him to make an impact.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Having made a return to the France setup for the first time since 2022, Mendy did not play a single minute at the Euros, with former Real Madrid left-back, Theo Hernandez being preferred by the manager.

Germany

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Carrying on from where he left off for Real Madrid, Rudiger was a solid presence at the heart of the German defence at the Euros in his homeland.

Came up against some tricky forwards throughout the hosts’ quarterfinal run but did well to hold his own, but was guilty of losing Mikel Merino for Spain’s goal that eliminated Germany.

Toni Kroos: 6.5/10

It was not a fairytale ending for Kroos, who waved goodbye to his international career with a forgettable display against Spain during which he could have been easily sent off for the array of fouls he committed.

Prior to that, however, Kroos was instrumental for Germany in their run until the quarterfinals, stringing play together from the centre of the park.

Turkey

Arda Guler: 7/10

Arda Guler made a good impression at the Euros. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

One of the breakout stars of the Euros, Arda Guler showcased his talent and potential, helping Turkey to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The 19-year-old started off with a wonder-goal against Georgia and also added two assists to his tally in his first major tournament, following in the footsteps of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. A bright future awaits.

Croatia

Luka Modric: 6/10

Unlike recent years, Luka Modric’s Croatia were unable to get past the group stages, with the veteran midfielder finishing the tournament with a goal from under 240 minutes.

Ukraine

Andriy Lunin: 2/10

Started the tournament as Ukraine’s No. 1 against Romania but made costly errors that saw him lose his place in the starting XI. Did not feature again after the opener as his team crashed out of the group stages.

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