Chelsea vs Real Madrid | Wednesday 5th May 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Last week's 1-1 draw at the Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium has set this second leg tie up beautifully, with Chelsea bringing a valuable away goal back with them we could be in for an intriguing game of cat and mouse in a match which could feasibly swing to and fro or go all the way to a penalty shootout.
In my preview of the first leg, I confidently predicted and expected a very low scoring affair which after the first 30 minutes looked like being, unlike Christian Pulisic and Karim Benzema, well wide of the mark – however the final hour of action was more in line with my expectations.
Restricting Los Blancos to just the one shot on target last Tuesday will fill the English side with a lot of confidence they can keep the back door shut in this home leg, as after all a goalless draw will be enough to see them through.
Even more reason for confidence is Thomas Tuchel’s incredible record of only conceding in one of eleven competitive matches at Stamford Bridge since taking over the hot seat from Frank Lampard, with that crazy 5-2 defeat at the hands of West Brom last month meaning the Baggies have been the only side to find a way past the German’s defensive organisation in their own stadium.
Illustrating the importance he places on both players, as well as the UCL itself Zinedine Zidane opted to rest both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric for the 2-0 win over Osasuna at the weekend, a game in which Eden Hazard made the starting XI for the first time since January, completing 72 minutes – and with a hip injury ruling out Raphael Varane, the return of Segio Ramos to full training could not be timelier.
Not many sides can travel with such confidence as Real Madrid who have not lost inside 90 minutes in 14 away games conceding just two in their last seven road trips, coupled with the Chelsea stats it is no surprise to see respective xG’s of 1.0 – 0.9 so we should expect a tight cagey opening, with both sides keen not to hand over any initiative.
As a consequence, I am going to take the half time result to be a draw here – just as it was in Madrid – at odds of 11/10 with Bet 365.
Both sides matched formations last week with the Blues fielding a midfield three with N'Golo Kanté and Jorginho joined by Mason Mount playing in a slightly deeper role to thwart that aforementioned pairing of Kroos and Modric as well as going toe to toe with the ever tenacious Casemiro.
The 22-year-old England international has established himself as one of Tuchel’s most important players and once again at the weekend was the difference for Chelsea as they defeated local rivals Fulham 2-0.
Mount’s exquisite first touch plucking Thiago Silva’s long ball out of the air before sliding in Kai Havertz who calmly finished to open the scoring – much to Mrs Silva’s delight I am sure, although I missed her Instagram story to confirm that!
However, the Portsmouth born midfielder who joined Chelsea at the age of six has become a favourite with all of his managers so far with his versatility and willingness to do what is needed for the greater good of the team, which should mean another shift in that withdrawn role once again.
Last week's preview saw us collect a winner after Mount made two successful tackles and I am looking at a similar theme in this second leg but with an addition.
Having successfully requested Sky Bet for odds on combined player tackle multiples involving Mason Mount and Casemiro I am happy enough to put a couple forward as some nice priced options here – a combined total of 8+ tackles look well in reach at 4/1 with more fanciful alternatives being 10+ at 16/1, 12+ at 75/1 and an incredible 500/1 if the dynamic duo can manage 14+ between them!
Although, they only managed a combined total of five tackles last week both players have enough previous form to suggest they should be able to give us a really good run for our money in a game which should have a fiercely competitive midfield – and if at the top of their tackling game could get close to the aforementioned big odds.
In La Liga, Casemiro has managed four successful tackles in five appearances, going one better once, making six twice with a season high of seven against Levante – but his highest number came in the UCL quarter final first leg against Liverpool where he amassed a colossal eight.
As for Chelsea’s number 19, well he has also made four successful tackles in five EPL games, warming up for this clash in making five on Saturday but has also recorded eight once this season, away at Leicester in January – a consistent UCL campaign sees him average two tackles every 90 minutes.
On that basis and with the nature of the game I am going to suggest for this preview a main play on 8+ tackles and a loose change “Hollywood” selection on 12+ at 75/1 – I certainly can’t think of a better way to spend the game if it is tight and combative than screaming “tackle” every time there is a midfield coming together!
Most of all – enjoy it!