Can Chelsea Turn Around Real Embarrassment?
When Real Madrid turned up at rain-soaked Stamford Bridge last Wednesday, many pundits were expecting Chelsea to make their home advantage count in the first-leg of the Champions League Quarter-Final. Instead, the men from Madrid were spearheaded to victory by their star striker Karim Benzema, who dispatched a fantastic hat-trick. Benzema’s first two were majestic headers that firmly secured the 34-year-old as one of the hottest forwards in European soccer.
Chelsea managed to snag a goal back just before half-time, when Kai Havertz bravely headed past the otherwise imperious Thibaut Courtois. The Blues went in at the break a goal down but with their tails up, and the home crowd were roaring in anticipation at the real possibility of the team making amends in the second-half.
Chelsea’s manager, the master tactician Thomas Tuchel, obviously felt that he hadn’t got his selections right in the first 45 minutes, and made two changes, bringing on Mateo Kovacic, and Hakim Ziyech. Tuchel then switched to a back four, and as he sat down to take his seat in the home dugout to watch the ref blow his whistle to start the second half, there was a feeling swirling around the stadium that everything was set up perfectly for Chelsea to put Madrid to the sword.
Didn’t Go To Plan
Except, it turned out that all of his meticulous re-arranging was rendered completely useless within a minute of the restart, as what he probably didn’t expect, was his goalkeeper to completely undersell a pass to his defender, which gifted the ball to an opponent to simply glide it into a wide-open net. That’s just what Edouard Mendy did though, when he botched a simple pass to Antonio Rudiger, allowing Benzema to charge forward and take advantage of the calamity, completing his hat-trick.
The energy quickly dissipated out of the crowd, and suddenly Chelsea’s task seemed mountainous. They had a few chances as time wore on, but Courtois was magnificent in goal, and then, that was that, Chelsea had lost by three goals to one.
So, when they make the trip to the Bernabeu for the second-leg, can the Blues turn around this scoreline, and progress to the semi-finals?
Reasons For Optimism
The one biggest reason Chelsea are not completely out of it yet, is that the away-goals rule was scrapped by UEFA this year. We’ve talked about why no away goals means better matches with this major European soccer rule change, and this fixture will be proof of that. Previously, Chelsea giving up three goals in their home stadium would’ve essentially meant the tie was dead and buried, as even if they went to Spain and won 2-0, they would still not take the tie to extra-time, as Real Madrid would have scored more away goals. So, it means that whilst it’ll still be a difficult occasion, they don’t need to score as many goals as they would’ve done last year, which should energize them.
Also, Chelsea are a team that have faced real adversity in this competition before, and risen to the challenge. In fact, they seem to be a club that enjoys being classed as the underdogs, despite being one of the richest teams in the world. Plus, they beat Real Madrid 2-0 last year when they romped to Champions League victory, albeit at home, but at least they know they are capable.
Reasons for Negativity
On the other hand though, Real Madrid look a much stronger outfit this year. They comfortably sit atop of La Liga, and look set to wrap up their 35th title imminently, proving Carlo Ancelotti’s return as manager to be a shrewd move. Additionally, they have Benzema, who even though he is now in the twilight of his glittering career, is in the form of his life, and looks likely to score nearly every time he steps a foot in the opponents’ half.
Chelsea also can’t seem to not concede at this late stage in the season, which will be a real worry for their fans, as whilst they’re likely to score against Real Madrid, they’re just as likely to yield goals. The best bet then appears to be for both teams to score, and Real Madrid to win, which is priced at 4.33 at BetWay, which is one of the best betting sites in UAE. The Champions League is bet on all over the globe, including United Arab Emirates, and that’s why Arabian Betting bring users the top bookmakers that accept Emiratis. Their esteemed choices are safe, and also offer VIP treatment to loyal customers, meaning bigger bonuses and personalized customer support.