Chelsea will host Real Madrid on Wednesday night with a place in the Champions League final on the line.
Here we look at the key talking points for the semi-final second leg.
Kante seeks to add Champions League to his trophy haul
N’Golo Kante has won almost everything going in football – but the Champions League trophy continues to elude him. Now the 30-year-old France star is back to his best, and closing in on his best chance yet to win Europe’s premier club competition. Premier League crowns with Leicester and Chelsea are already in the bag, and so too the World Cup with France. Kante even spurred the Blues to 2019 Europa League glory despite battling a knee problem throughout that 4-1 demolition of Arsenal in Baku. Kante can hardly add to his status in the game, but a Champions League title would certainly help.
The luckless Mateo Kovacic has failed in his bid to shake off a hamstring problem in time to take on his former club Real. The Croatia star’s absence will be keenly felt by the Blues, even despite the fine form of both Kante and Jorginho in defensive midfield. Boss Thomas Tuchel could easily have used all three men throughout this second leg in a bid to keep his Chelsea side razor sharp. But now the Blues must battle it out without one of the most reliable performers of an exceptional last few months.
Pulisic up against Chelsea’s former No 10 Hazard
New Chelsea boss Tuchel has made no secret of the fact that Christian Pulisic taking on the Blues’ No 10 shirt harbours all sorts of pressure and responsibility. Pulisic will go head to head with Chelsea’s former No 10 again on Wednesday, as Eden Hazard makes an intriguing return to Stamford Bridge. Hazard’s excellence in the coveted shirt certainly leaves Pulisic with a lot to live up to, but the USA forward has been back in top form in recent weeks. The stage will be set in west London for Chelsea’s past and future to clash in the present.
Real sweating on Ramos
Real Madrid’s defensive talisman Sergio Ramos missed the first leg that was drawn 1-1 through injury. The Spain stalwart is back in the Real squad for the Chelsea trip, but it remains to be seen whether the 35-year-old will be fit enough to start at Stamford Bridge. Real would most likely revert to their favoured 4-3-3 formation should Ramos start. And Blues boss Tuchel has already hinted that the best way to take on the abrasive centre back could be through deploying Kai Havertz in the false nine role that has so suited the Germany forward in recent weeks.
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