Dubai: Chelsea host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge with a mountain to climb.
Real currently hold a 2-0 advantage from their previous game at the Bernabeu and it appears the Blues will bow out. Interim coach Frank Lampard has been in charge of three matches and has lost all of them. Chelsea’s loss to the European champions in their own backyard wasn’t something to be ashamed of, but they were outplayed by Brighton in their Premier League clash at the weekend. Lampard admitted that the 2-1 scoreline flattered his team and that they were fortunate not to lose by more.
Real’s Asensio came up with another telling contribution in Los Blancos’ trip to Cadiz at the weekend and although coach Carlo Ancelotti rang the changes for their game with the bottom-half outfit, they finally returned to winning ways in La Liga.
Chelsea were forced to navigate the final half-hour of the first leg with 10 men after Ben Chilwell was given a straight red card for a last-man foul on Rodrygo. The left-back will serve his suspension on Tuesday, surely signalling a recall for Marc Cucurella at left-back. Kalidou Koulibaly is out with a hamstring problem he picked up at the Bernabeu, joining Armando Broja (knee) on the sidelines, while Kai Havertz (knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back), and Carney Chukwuemeka (knock) will all need assessing.
Ancelotti was also without a couple of integral cogs for the weekend due to bumps and bruises, with Vinicius Junior and Toni Kroos both missing out with muscular overload alongside calf victim Ferland Mendy. Kroos and Vinicius should be good to go after their precautionary absences, so Asensio’s reward for his recent goalscoring exploits should be a demotion to the bench.
Historically, Chelsea have advanced from five of their last seven Champions League ties in which they lost the first leg away from home, but they have failed to win any of their last four Stamford Bridge games. Real, on the other hand, have progressed from 18 of their 19 Champions League knockout ties in which they won the first leg by at least two clear goals, only falling to runners-up Monaco in 2003-04.
It is not impossible to envisage Lampard’s side making the net ripple but they will have to be at their best to overcome Real who will be looking to set a new continental record with a sixth successive Champions League knockout win.