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If Chelsea needed any extra motivation ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid they got it from Emma Hayes and her players.
Chelsea Women became the first English team to make it to the Champions League final since the tournament rebranded 13 years ago this weekend. The difference between the women’s and men’s side is that Hayes’ team had to come from behind to book their place in the final whereas Thomas Tuchel’s head into the home tie of their semi-final against Real Madrid as the 8/13 favourites with bet365 to qualify.
The strength of Chelsea’s position comes after an excellent performance in Spain. Tuchel would surely have taken a 1-1 draw before the match but has reason to be slightly frustrated that Chelsea did not win in the Estadio Alfredo Stefano such was their dominance, especially in the first half.
For all that Chelsea are the right favourites to make it through to the final in Istanbul and set up a potential historic men’s and women’s double for the club, Real Madrid are masters of this tournament. Zinedine Zidane has guided Los Blancos to three Champions League trophies already and while they are not as strong as the 2015-19 team, they have huge experience and know exactly how to grind out results so this could be a very tense watch for all Chelsea fans.
Chelsea 6/5 (bet365)
Draw 23/10 (Betfred)
Real Madrid 12/5 (Ladbrokes)
(Please note all odds are correct at time of article publishing)
Tuchel and his coaching staff always do their homework. While the German has largely played the same 3-5-2 formation since taking over at Chelsea he is always making tweaks to his tactics and personnel to counter specific threats from the opposition. His opposite number isn’t regarded as such a deep thinker about the game but it was Zidane who made the eyecatching change for the first leg.
Real Madrid lined up with three centre-backs apparently to match up with Chelsea. It’s safe to say that experiment did not work as they conceded a number of chances in the first half before shoring things up. Zidane will revert to a back four at Stamford Bridge and there are suggestions that Sergio Ramos may return from injury to partner Rafael Varane in the heart of defence.
Tuchel experimented himself on the weekend, jettisoning his usual set up to play just one holding midfielder. That, too, didn’t quite work as Fulham were able to create chances before he reverted to type in the second half and you can expect Jorginho and N’Golo Kante to slot back into a compact Chelsea midfield with Mason Mount getting forward in support of whichever two forwards Tuchel picks on Wednesday.
With both managers setting out their teams to cancel out the threat of one another, this is sure to be a tight match so the draw looks well priced at 23/10 with Betfred which brings up the potential for the tie going into extra time.
Draw 1-1 @ 24/5 (Ladbrokes)
Chelsea 1-0 @ 11/2 (Coral)
Draw 0-0 @ 15/2 (bet365)
Real Madrid 1-0 @ 8/1 (888sport)
Chelsea 2-1 @ 8/1 (Betfred)
Chelsea 2-0 @ 17/2 (Paddy Power)
The only way that this semi-final could go into extra time is with a 1-1 draw and that is the shortest priced option in the Correct Score market at 24/5 with Ladbrokes. Chelsea have been very strong defensively since Tuchel’s appointment while Real Madrid know every trick in the book when it comes to staying in a tie so there is every chance of a low scoring draw.
Moreover, just one of the last 12 combined Chelsea and Real Madrid matches saw more than two goals scored. The added tension of a Champions League semi-final is unlikely to turn these two fairly cautious teams into gung-ho exponents of attacking football which is why under 2.5 goals is as short as 6/10 with Paddy Power.
Karim Benzema 9/2 (Paddy Power)
Olivier Giroud 9/2 (Coral)
Tammy Abraham 9/2 (Ladbrokes)
Timo Werner 5/1 (888sport)
Christian Pulisic 5/1 (Ladbrokes)
Kai Havertz 15/2 (bet365)
Mason Mount 9/1 (Paddy Power)
Eden Hazard 19/2 (888sport)
Whereas Zidane is likely to make a number of changes to his team from the first leg due to a combination of fitness and tactical considerations, it would not be a surprise to see Tuchel play the same team who started in Madrid. The only player who may have done enough to force his way into the starting XI is Kai Havertz who was excellent against Fulham and is finally starting to blossom into the player that Chelsea thought they had signed in the summer.
Doing it against a team about to be relegated from the Premier League and Real Madrid in a Champions League semi-final are two very different things though so Havertz may well have to make do with a place on the bench. It’s a different story for Mason Mount who set Havertz up for the first goal of his brace on Saturday. Mount has quickly won the trust of another manager and has no problem taking a shot if an opportunity presents itself so is a good bet to score first at 9/1 with Paddy Power.
Chelsea to Qualify at 8/13 (bet365)
The Draw at 23/10 (Betfred)
Mason Mount to Score First at 5/1 (Paddy Power)