Real Madrid have quite a few injury issues to cope with as they take on a resilient Chelsea side in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie tonight.
It's familiar territory for Real Madrid as they move into the semi-finals and to within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League title. However, they will have their work cut out for them against Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea, who have been one of the toughest teams to break down in recent times.
To make things more complicated for Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane has quite a few selection problems with some of his star players out injured. But Zizou has made a habit of finding a way in the UEFA Champions League and we expect no lesser from the Real Madrid manager.
Without further ado, let's take a look at how Real Madrid will lineup against Chelsea tonight.
Real Madrid Goalkeeper
No surprises here. Real Madrid will go with their reliable no. 1 Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian will guard the sticks for Los Blancos against his former club and he has been in great form of late.
Courtois has kept cleansheets in all of his last four matches and will be keen to shut Chelsea out as well. The match is expected to be a cagey affair with Chelsea not showing the kind of attacking flair to match their defensive capabilities.
Courtois could yet be tested with the likes of Mason Mount and Timo Werner showing a lot of initiative in recent times. The German striker's finishing leaves a lot to be desired but Mason Mount has been fancying chances from distance of late and he will force Courtois to be on his toes tonight.
Real Madrid defenders
Real Madrid are without two of their key defenders. Sergio Ramos is still not ready to play, though he is back in training. Ferland Mendy has now been ruled out of the first leg. As such, we expect Nacho Fernandez to start at left-back ahead of Marcelo.
Raphael Varane is back and he will be partnered at the heart of the defense with Eder Militao, who has done a very good job of late. Lucas Vazquez had been filling in for Dani Carvajal but is now out injured.
Carvajal is back though and started in the game against Real Betis over the weekend and he will be deployed at right-back today.
Real Madrid midfielders
Perhaps the biggest cause for concern for Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League semi-final tie against Chelsea has been the fitness of Toni Kroos. But Zizou has confirmed that his most reliable midfielder is not a doubt for the game.
Meanwhile, Fede Valverde has tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be available. This means that Zidane is most likely to go with his trusted midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro.
Luka Modric has been in great form in the Champions League and it's the kind of occasion that brings out the best in the Croatian. He will be a handful to deal with for the likes of Kante and Jorginho and he will constantly try to drag one of them out of their position to leave the Chelsea defense vulnerable.
Modric and Kroos will pull the strings from midfield with Casemiro sweeping behind them. The Brazilian has been a stalwart in defensive midfield and is having yet another solid season.
Casemiro will have to keep the likes of Chelsea's attacking midfielders quiet and he will also need to step in to help out his full-backs as the Blues are famous for overloading the flanks.
Real Madrid forwards
Eden Hazard came off the bench against Real Betis and Zinedine Zidane will need to choose between him and Vinicius Jr. tonight. Hazard would love to play against his former employers but Vinicius is more match fit right now and it won't be much of a surprise if Zidane decides to go with Vinicius over the Belgian.
Vinicius' pace and trickery caused a lot of problems for the Liverpool backline and his presence could be critical to disrupting an otherwise resolute Chelsea defense. Marco Asensio is Real Madrid's best bet on the right side and the Spaniard has showcased good form in the Champions League of late, scoring against both Atalanta and Liverpool.
The ever reliable Karim Benzema will lead the attack for Zinedine Zidane's men. He has been among the goals of late and it's time for yet another big game performance from the Frenchman.
Benzema's well-rounded skillset will pose a threat quite unlike what the Chelsea defense have run into of late and it will be quite an interesting battle.
Real Madrid probable lineup (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois, Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Raphael Varane, Nacho Fernandez, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Vinicius Jr., Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema