How high are Chelsea's chances of beating Real Madrid?
Chelsea made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years, beating Porto 2-1 over two legs, to advance to the stage. It has been a season of chaos, decisions and many highs and lows for the Blues.
They’re fifth in the Premier League, a point behind West Ham. This top-four race will go down the wire.
They’re also in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, facing Manchester City on Saturday. So yeah, I guess you can say there have been more highs than lows.
Now, they face Real Madrid, the most decorated team in the competition’s history. A team that won three consecutive Champions League titles from 2016 to 2018. Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, though, they’ve had difficulties in getting to the latter stages of the Champions League. They didn’t make it past the Round of-16 stage in each of their last two seasons.
But they’re back now, beating Atalanta and Liverpool en route to the semis. So, against the most successful team in the competition, how much of a chance does Chelsea have of progressing to the final for the first time since 2012, when they lifted the trophy?
However, when it comes to a team like Real Madrid, your chances decrease a little just because of the experience they have of playing in the competition. Most of their players are holders of multiple Champions League winning medals. That alone is intimidating enough for any team that faces them.
These players are so experienced and so used to the pressure of playing in a match as important as this, that their mind functions pretty normally during games like this. They know what to do and they usually do it despite the circumstances.
If you look at Chelsea’s squad, there aren’t any Champions League winners simply because it’s a very young team, but with a lot of potential. That they got to this stage with relative ease is a feat in itself. They beat Atletico Madrid on their way, a team that is currently on the top of La Liga. They dominated them over two legs and honestly, that’s very impressive.
Tactically speaking, the blueprints of Chelsea and Real Madrid are similar in some ways and different in others. Both teams tend to keep possession of the ball and build out from the back and attack through the flanks more often than not.
Another similarity that I’ve noticed is that both of these teams have difficulty in breaking down low blocks. It’s not that they don’t win against teams like this, but it usually takes them a while to get going and score goals, sometimes it takes them too long. They both like to do the pressing when it’s the right time.
The difference, though, is that Real Madrid’s tactical set-up is far more flexible than Chelsea’s, as we’ve seen against teams like Liverpool and Barcelona. They don’t mind sitting back and waiting for opportunities to come to them. Thomas Tuchel is a little more stubborn with his plan, although he changes things up in some cases.
Now, Chelsea’s team on paper is inferior to Real Madrid’s. The one place where the gap is very wide is the midfield. Real Madrid’s midfield still looks incredible, and couple that with the experience that Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro have, you have one of the finest midfield partnerships in all of football. Chelsea, on the other hand, have a good midfield as well. It’s simply not on Real’s level, though.
In the attack, both teams aren’t exactly free-scoring sides. Timo Werner still hasn’t found his groove yet. Hakim Ziyech has been both off and on, both in terms of form and actually playing, something that has caused rumours of him looking to leave the club in the summer.
All I will say is this: To advance to the final, Chelsea have to get it absolutely spot on, and prevent Real Madrid’s midfield from dominating them. They need to make sure that they choose the attackers that can link up well with each other, because that’s one aspect of this Chelsea team that Tuchel hasn’t figured out yet. You just can’t make mistakes against a team like Real Madrid. The Blues have to remember that.
Analysis Written By Hridyam Arora