Chelsea face Real Madrid on Wednesday evening knowing that a clean sheet will see them progress to their third Champions League final.
Thomas Tuchel’s side host the Spanish giants with a slight advantage having grabbed a crucial away goal in Madrid last week, meaning that a shutout would be enough to ensure that the Blues progress to face Manchester City in the final in Istanbul on May 29th.
The German’s side side started brilliantly in the first leg, going ahead early on through Christian Pulisic, and could have found themselves further ahead at the break but for host of missed chances.
Chelsea’s commanding position going into the second leg provides stark evidence of just how far the Blues have come under Tuchel, who has now seen his side keep 18 clean sheets in 23 games.
With a crucial away goal in the bag and their opponents needing a goal to have any chance of progressing, Tuchel will likely set out his side to stand firm at the back.
But which XI will the German go with? Here’s our predicted Chelsea line-up to take on Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge…
Tuchel voiced public support for Kepa Arrizabalaga in recent weeks after the Spaniard started two games on the trot for the first time since February. The 26-year-old has played every minute of the Blues’ run to the FA Cup final and will expect to start the final against Leicester, but Edouard Mendy remains the club’s first choice and will start against Madrid in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the club’s season so far.
Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been used as a right wing-back of late and sat out the 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, but would expect to return to the starting XI on Tuesday. Tuchel will be keen to ensure his back line are fully focussed and may opt for experience with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger likely to start either side of Thiago Silva in a back three. On the left, Ben Chilwell will likely be preferred to Marcos Alonso for his defensive capabilities.
With former Real man Mateo Kovacic still sidelined, Jorginho will likely return to the side after being dropped in favour of Billy Gilmour at the weekend. N’Golo Kante‘s man of the match performance in the first leg earned him a rest for the first hour of the Fulham game too, but Tuchel will be relying on the Frenchman to combat Real’s blistering attack and to nullify the Spanish side’s all-star midfield, who were kept uncharacteristically quiet in the first leg a week ago.
The Blues’ player of the season to be, Mason Mount, looks almost undroppable at the moment with his stunning assist for Kai Havertz against Fulham the latest in a series of standout moments in the youngster’s season. The England international will likely start on the left, with Timo Werner again likely to be preferred to Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud through the centre. On the right, Christian Pulisic, scorer of the Blues’ potentially crucial away goal, will expect to start having impressed so much in Madrid.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, Chilwell, Jorginho, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Werner.
With reports in Spain suggesting that former Chelsea star Eden Hazard will start, Blues fans will undoubtedly be nervous of their former fan favourite coming back to haunt them. However, with defensive solidity the standout feature of Tuchel’s tenure so far, the German will be confident in his side’s chances of making an all Premier League final in Istanbul.