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Chelsea will hope lightning strikes twice as the Blues host Madrid in the quarter-finals: last season the sides met in the semi-finals, a 2-0 home win at Stamford Bridge sealing a 3-1 aggregate success. And the rest, as they say, is history. N’Golo Kanté was the driving force behind that triumph, picking up player of the match awards in both legs (and the final!) and he is likely to be at the heart of things again. But watch out for another Frenchman, Karim Benzema, following his heroics against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
Possible starting line-ups
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Rüdiger; James, Kanté, Jorginho, Alonso; Kovačic, Havertz, Pulišić
Misses next match if booked: Loftus-Cheek
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Éder Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modrić; Valverde, Benzema, Vinícius Júnior
Misses next match if booked: Éder Militão
Form guide (all competitions, most recent first): LWWWWW
Where they stand: 3rd in Premier League, FA Cup semi-finals
Form guide (all competitions, most recent first): WLWWWW
Where they stand: 1st in Liga
Joe Terry, Chelsea reporter
Chelsea’s surprise 4-1 loss to Brentford on Saturday ended an unbeaten streak over 90 minutes stretching back to mid-January, but Thomas Tuchel is refusing to make a drama out of it, and cannot afford to with Real Madrid coming to Stamford Bridge. A repeat of last year’s semi-final, expect to see the Blues try to stifle their opponents with greater energy and push for as large a lead as possible ahead of the second leg.
Simon Hart, Real Madrid reporter
In last season’s semi-final defeat at Stamford Bridge, Madrid were undone by the speed of Chelsea’s transitions from defence to attack. This begs the question whether Ancelotti will look for extra legs in his midfield by calling on Federico Valverde. Where Madrid can take confidence is from Karim Benzema’s goalscoring return at Celta on Saturday, after the Frenchman missed the 4-0 loss to Barcelona; the fact he joined Alfredo Di Stéfano as the club’s joint-third highest scorer with 216 goals at the weekend underlines the captain’s importance.
View from the camps
Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea manager: “We should be very aware that teams with this kind of quality, flair and experience can produce a special occasion. For us, it’s also a special occasion and it’s why we feel pretty excited.”
Christian Pulišić, Chelsea midfielder: “We got a good result [against them] last year and hope to do the same this year. It’s a Champions League knockout game and it won’t be easy, but given we won it all last season, we should feel confident.”
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid goalkeeper: “Last season’s tie was different. There were no fans and it was at the semi-final stage. We’re all feeling really good and know what’s at stake. If we produce the right levels of intensity, we’re capable of winning.”
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