London, Apr 5 (EFE).- Real Madrid will visit Stamford Bridge for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals first leg in a rematch of last season’s semifinals clash that saw Chelsea advance and eventually hoist the title.
It will be a good chance for Real Madrid to shrug off the heavy 4-0 home rout by their nemesis Barcelona before the international break. While they defeated Celta Vigo, they did not convince.
The Spanish powerhouse has always lived up to the occasion when it comes to their favorite tournament they have won for a record of 13 times, a historic comeback against Paris Saint Germain in the last-16 included.
Their hopes of pulling off their maiden victory over Chelsea in their sixth clash will hang on the shoulders of Karim Benzema, the architect of the PSG comeback.
The French star has scored eight Champions League goals, including a hat-trick against PSG, which bring his tally to 34 goals, 10 of which came in his recent six outings.
“I said like two years ago he is one of the underrated players in football, but maybe not anymore,” Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said at a presser on the eve of the game.
“What he did to overcome the last stage. How he carried the responsibility (…) he is a stand-out player and standout personality,” he added while praising also Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro among others.
The German coach downplayed his team’s last season’s victory over the Spanish team as well as the 4-1 home defeat they endured against Brentford, their second-worst loss under Tuchel since he took the helm in 2021.
The defeat ended a six-match winning streak that began since Roman Abramovich decided to sell the club after his assets were frozen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The off-field instability was not a distraction for some players, including Kai Havertz, who has beaten Romelu Lukaku to a spot in the starting lineup, scoring four goals in his last six games. EFE