Real Madrid v Chelsea: Keep rock-solid Blues onside

Real Madrid meet Chelsea on Tuesday night in a Champions League semi-final first leg showdown from the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.

Real Madrid fail to fire

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is refusing to give up on the club's La Liga title defence despite a damaging 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis. Los Blancos struggled to make any impact on the Seville-based side as a demanding fixture schedule and an expanding injury list appeared to catch up on the 13-time champions of Europe.

The capital club struggled to create any chances against their organised visitors with keeper Thibaut Courtois making two vital late saves to preserve a point in Madrid.

However, despite losing ground in the end of season title run in, Zidane remained upbeat, saying: "We lost two points, it is clear. Defensively we were very good, but offensively we lacked many things. There is a long way to go and we are going to fight until the end."

Key midfielder Toni Kroos will return to the squad for Tuesday night's tussle at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, whilst Eden Hazard could play an increased role after making a late cameo at the weekend on his long awaited return from injury. But skipper Sergio Ramos remains sidelined, targeting a return for the second leg showdown next week.

Werner strike seals Chelsea success

Chelsea chief Thomas Tuchel says the Blues "trust themselves" to perform against Real Madrid after beating West Ham 1-0 to strengthen their grip on the top four om the Premier League on Saturday. Timo Werner's first goal since February saw off the Hammers and means the Blues head to the Spanish capital with confidence sky high.

In a tightly-fought contest against West Ham, Werner, who has struggled to make a significant impact since joining for £47m last summer, started and finished the move that sealed the points. The Germany forward fired home from Ben Chilwell's cross after a well-worked move involving Christian Pulisic, Werner's sixth Premier League goal of the season.

West Ham struggled to create chances as Chelsea extended their unbeaten run away from home under Tuchel to 10 games in all competitions before the German swiftly refocussed his group on the midweek match-up.

Tuchel said: "It's clearly something very special. They're the biggest club in the last 10 years of the Champions League. To arrive with the confidence and the trust in ourselves that we can perform in these matches is a good feeling."

Market favours Madrid

Real Madrid and Chelsea are locking horns for the fourth occasion in Europe, however the duo haven't crossed paths since a 1998 UEFA Super Cup final showdown. The Blues have bagged W2-D1-L0 in their previous tussles with Los Blancos, meaning Madrid have faced the Londoners more often than any other side across all competitions without winning.

Real Madrid 2.44 have won the first leg of nine of their last 10 Champions League knockout ties, scoring at least two goals in eight of these games. But Tuesday night is the club's first semi-final since 2017-18 and Los Blancos arrive having failed to score in three of their most recent four outings (W1-D3-L0). However, the hosts are unbeaten since January.

Chelsea 3.45 have enjoyed a remarkable and immediate turnaround since Thomas Tuchel arrived. The Blues have been the Premier League's most dominant in terms of points and performance data, built upon a rock-solid defence that's now shutout 16 of 21 opponents during the German's reign. The guests have W8-D2-L0 away under Tuchel's watch.

Goals unlikely to flow

Real Madrid are no longer the swashbuckling side with a wealth of free-flowing attacking superstars that waltzed their way to Champions League glory. Zinedine Zidane's team have evolved to a more attritional style as key players have departed and current squad members have aged. Stylistically, Los Blancos aren't suited to open, basketball-style shootouts.

With that in mind, plus the magnitude of the match, it's no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.67. Chelsea's improvements from a defensive standpoint have been well documented and the Blues' goals per-game figures have dropped drastically under Thomas Tuchel with only two of 21 overall outings featuring four goals or more.

Pragmatism could lead us towards profit this midweek. By opposing a high-scoring encounter and keeping Chelsea onside, we can take 1.89 on Chelsea Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals. This wager has already paid out against Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs and Atletico Madrid (x2) during Tuchel's first three months in charge.

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