Chelsea will be looking to progress to the final of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2012 when they lock horns with Real Madrid in the second-leg of their semi-final clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
The Blues, who defeated west London rivals Fulham 2-0 on Saturday evening, will welcome the Spanish heavyweights to the Bridge with the tie evenly balanced at 1-1 following last week’s first-leg at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium.
Christian Pulisic netted an all-important away-goal for the Blues, who knocked Real’s cross-city rivals Atletico out of the competition at the last-16 stage, before Karim Benzema netted a stunning equaliser for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
That means that it is all to play for this evening, although Chelsea know a clean-sheet would be enough to see them progress to the final later this month.
However, whilst Chelsea may have been in formidable form since Thomas Tuchel took charge towards the end of January, losing just two of his first 23 games in charge, a clash with Madrid at the semi-final stage of this competition is no easy challenge to overcome.
Fortunately, the German has an array of players within his armoury that will fancy their chances of being able to stifle the Spanish giants at one end of the pitch and make them pay at the other.
That is because the Blues are blessed with a defensive-line that has been transformed under Tuchel, rarely conceding goals, whilst at the other end of the pitch they have the likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Pulisic who are all capable of causing damage.
Last week, Pulisic proved that he has the ability to cause problems, running in behind the Madrid defence and running them ragged.
Whilst it is highly likely he will start on Wednesday evening, Havertz will fancy his chances of going up against the 13-time European Cup winners after scoring a brace against Fulham on Saturday.
The German showed terrific composure and vision for his two goals, meaning he will want to hold onto his starting berth and get the chance to get at Madrid’s defenders from the off, especially as he was limited to just 24 minutes of action last Tuesday.
Should Tuchel give him the nod to start the contest, Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will no doubt be having a quick word in the ears of his teammates, warning them to watch out for him.
That is because Kroos waxed lyrical about Havertz’s development last year, insisting if he continued to perform in the manner he was doing he would become difficult to play against.
“If he continues like this, he’ll be hard to stop,” Kroos told Bild am Sonntag, via Sport Bild, last September. “But there are no guarantees and there are always stumbling blocks in a career.
“Kai is now facing the next step and a new situation. He also has to get used to it first.”
Although Havertz has not hit the high notes as much as he would have liked this season, he has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, adapting to his new false nine role under Tuchel.
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He has scored three times in his last three Premier League appearances and his confidence and happiness appears to be growing because of it.
Taking into account just how well he performed against Fulham at the weekend, the Germany international faces a strong chance, you would like to think, of retaining his place in the team.
Should he start and show signs of life early on, Kroos will no doubt be urging his teammates to do all they to stop him from weaving his magic.