Copy of 2023-04-11T104048Z_1229071354_UP1EJ4B0TNW1R_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-CHAMPIONS-MAD-CHE-PREVIEW-1681216511020
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard (right) takes a training session ahead of their match against Real Madrid tomorrow. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Dubai: Real Madrid and Chelsea will face off in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, pitting the last two winners of Europe’s most coveted footballing prize against each other.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti will reunite with his former club after defeating Liverpool 6-2 on aggregate in the last 16, while Chelsea overcame Borussia Dortmund 2-1 after being behind in the first leg.

Ancelotti has his sights set on adding to his four Champions League titles, and Real will be aiming to eliminate an English team from a knockout tie for the fourth time in a row as they seek to win the title for the 15th time.

Copa del Rey final

Chelsea, who have reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the third consecutive year, have not lost to the defending champions since being beaten by Porto in 2004-05. Last year, Real and Chelsea faced off in a blockbuster quarter-final where Real won 3-2 in the Bernabeu, advancing 5-3 on aggregate to end the Blues’ defence of their crown.

Real are focusing on the Champions League and also have a Copa del Rey final against Osasuna to look forward to. They are still also in the hunt for the La Liga title even though they trail leaders Barcelona by 13 points. Should the 2022-23 season be Ancelotti’s last campaign in the Blancos dugout, it would be difficult for him to leave on the back of another trophy-laden campaign.

Real have not failed to score in a Champions League home match since a 3-0 loss to CSKA Moscow in December 2018, and each of their last five European games at the Bernabeu have ended in victory.

3-2 defeat

Ancelotti rested some of his star players during the 3-2 defeat to Villarreal, but Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Eder Militao, and Eduardo Camavinga, who played the full 90 in both legs against Liverpool, should all be fit and ready.

Federico Valverde, who allegedly punched Villarreal’s Alex Baena after the game, may also be available but Ferland Mendy is likely to miss out due to injury.

In contrast, Chelsea’s Mason Mount is a significant doubt due to a recurrence of his abdominal issue, and he may not be able to play while Armando Broja and Thiago Silva are also sidelined due to knee injuries. Cesar Azpilicueta has yet to recover from his head injury meaning with a somewhat depleted squad this could be a tough test for newly installed interim coach Frank Lampard.

The 44-year-old lost his first game back in charge of the Blues last weekend against Wolves in the Premier League and the pressure will be on him to make sure his side deliver a strong performance.