Real Madrid vs Chelsea FC tactics: Predicting where the Champions League semi-final will be won and lost

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James Robson
·2-min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Chelsea take on Real Madrid on Tuesday night in the first leg of their heavyweight Champions League semi-final tie.

Here, Standard Sport’s James Robson looks at where the eagerly anticipated last-four clash will be won and lost...

Tuchel vs Zidane

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has already bettered a stellar list of managerial royalty since taking over at Stamford Bridge, including Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone.

But in Zinedine Zidane he faces a master in the Champions League.

The France legend’s achievements are criminally underestimated, despite conquering Europe in three successive years and winning two LaLiga titles with Real.

Thomas Tuchel and Zinedine Zidane lock horns in the Champions League semi-finalsGetty Images
Thomas Tuchel and Zinedine Zidane lock horns in the Champions League semi-finalsGetty Images

For some reason Zidane is not as celebrated as Guardiola or Klopp, despite his incredible record in what remains a relatively fledgling managerial career.

Tuchel has come up with the answer to every major test he has faced, but Zidane might be his toughest yet (aside from Sam Allardyce).

Stop Benzema

Real Madrid are still struggling to cope with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, but it would have been so much worse if not for Karim Benzema’s enduring brilliance.

The France striker moved to the Santiago Bernabeu in the same summer as Ronaldo – in 2009 – and has been a vital component in their success during that time, including four Champions Leagues, three LaLiga titles and four Club World Cups.

Can Chelsea’s defence keep the enduringly prolific Karim Benzema quiet?AP
Can Chelsea’s defence keep the enduringly prolific Karim Benzema quiet?AP

He has scored 27 goals already this season and remains as deadly as ever anywhere near the box.

If Thiago Silva gets the nod in the centre of a back three, he will have to be at his wiliest to keep Benzema quiet, which is why Tuchel may choose to go for experience over the more youthful Andreas Christensen.

Halting the carousel

Just ask Gareth Southgate what it is like trying to cope with Luka Modric in full flow.

Add Toni Kroos to the mix and you are in danger of being hypnotised just trying to follow the ball.

Real Madrid’s midfield have the quality to pass the life out of their opponents, which is why N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will be so important on Tuesday night.

N’Golo Kante and Jorginho must disrupt the passing rhythm of Luka Modric and Toni KroosGetty Images
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho must disrupt the passing rhythm of Luka Modric and Toni KroosGetty Images

They have to break the carousel of passing by Modric and Kroos, while Mason Mount and Chelsea’s forwards will also have to press high to disrupt them and try to force them into mistakes.

Midfield could well be where this tie is won or lost.

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