Real Madrid vs Chelsea: 5 key player battles | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Zinedine Zidane will look to lead Real Madrid to another Champions League title.
Zinedine Zidane will look to lead Real Madrid to another Champions League title.
Daksh Shukla

Real Madrid and Chelsea meet in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Tuesday night.

Chelsea qualified for the semi-final after a 2-1 aggregate win over Portuguese giants Porto. Meanwhile, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 over two legs to return to the competition's last four for the first time in three years..

On the injury front, Real Madrid's Eden Hazard is fit to play against his former team. However, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez and Federico Valverde remain unavailable for the Los Blancos. Meanwhile, for Chelsea, only Mateo Kovacic misses out because of a hamstring problem. The Croatian's absence means Jorginho and N'Golo Kante will continue in midfield.

This will be the fourth European meeting between Chelsea and Real Madrid, with the last encounter coming in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup final. When it comes to the Champions League, Real Madrid are in a league of their own, but Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea are no pushovers.

On that note, let's take a look at five key player battles that could decide the outcome of the game

#5 Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) vs Reece James (Chelsea)

Big night for Reece James
Big night for Reece James

Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior has been in good form in the last few months and has become a regular under Zinedine Zidane.

The Brazilian's brace in Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Liverpool in the quarter-finals was key in Los Blancos reaching the last four. Vinicius likes to hug the touchline and provide width for his team. That helps in stretching opponents’ backlines. Blessed with blistering pace, Vinicius will look to get in behind the Chelsea backline like he did against Liverpool.

The task of keeping Vinicius out of the game will most likely be given to Chelsea's academy star Reece James. The Englishman might not be a traditional full-back, but he is not the easiest player to get through.

Vinicius's trackback will also be on test, as Reece James likes to bomb forward and is known for his attacking threat. That should make for an enticing battle between two talented youngsters.

#4 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) vs Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema will look to get on the scoresheet.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema will look to get on the scoresheet.

Karim Benzema has led from the front ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid.

The Frenchman has been a talisman for Zidane and has been their primary source of goals. Benzema has been involved in 33 goals in all competitions this season but might have his work cut out aginst the rock-solid Chelsea defence.

Edouard Mendy has been a revelation for Chelsea. The London side's problems between the posts were there for everyone to see, but a lot has changed this season.

With 16 clean sheets in 21 games under Thomas Tuchel, Mendy now has 22 clean sheets in 37 games in all competitions this season. However, considering Karim Benzema's intelligent movement and threat in the opposition box, Mendy will have to be on his toes at all times.

#3 Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) vs Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)

Christian Pulisic will look to continue his good form for Chelsea.
Christian Pulisic will look to continue his good form for Chelsea.

The battle between one of the most consistent full-backs, Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal, and one of the most exciting wingers, Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, could be an enticing one.

Dani Carvajal has missed quite a few games due to injury this season, but the defender got a useful 68 minutes under his belt against Real Betis last weekend. The Spaniard has been solid as a rock in the Real Madrid defence and has been a key member of the squad for many years now. Carvajal will look to support the attack like he usually does, but he will have to wary of Chelsea's #10, Pulisic

Christian Pulisic has had a decent campaign, like he did during his first season at Chelsea. Pulisic is an amazing talent but has grappled with recurring injury problems, and regular game time has been an issue for the American.

However, in the last few months, Pulisic seems to have rediscovered his mojo. He is turning out to be a key player for Chelsea during their end-of-season run, as the Blues have a lot to play for.

#2 Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) vs Jorginho (Chelsea)

Real Madrid's midfield maestro Toni Kroos
Real Madrid's midfield maestro Toni Kroos

There was a lot of chatter around Toni Kroos' availability, but the German was seen training with the first-team and is included in Real Madrid's squad for the first leg against Chelsea.

Real Madrid haven't looked the same without Toni Kroos in the last few games, so Zidane will hope his star midfielder makes an impact straight away. Kroos is an exceptional long passer, and that might hurt Chelsea's high defensive line. The German's passing range and presence in midfield could have a major impact on the game's result.

Up against Kroos in midfield will be Chelsea's Jorginho. The Italian has had an inconsistent campaign, but he has been a key player since Tuchel arrived at Chelsea.

Jorginho will have to be at his very best if Chelsea want to keep Real Madrid's midfield trio quiet. Games are coming thick and fast, so Chelsea will hope that doesn't hinder Jorginho's performance on the night.

#1 Casemiro (Real Madrid) vs N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

N'Golo Kante will have a huge role to play against Real Madrid.
N'Golo Kante will have a huge role to play against Real Madrid.

Midfield battles tend to win games, so the duel between Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and Real Madrid's Casemiro could be key in the context of the game.

Los Blancos have the perfect blend of work rate, technique and creativity in the middle of the park. One component of their epic midfield trio is Brazilian midfielder Casemiro.

While he is not one of the most skilled players around, Casemiro is intelligent and likes to play strong and aggressive football. His exceptional work-rate and hard-hitting tackling make him one of the best in his position.

Casemiro wins most midfield battles before they even begin, but against N'Golo Kante, that might not be very straightforward.

Kante might have a different approach to the game than Casemiro, but his mobility and energy to get around the pitch and shut down opponents might be Chelsea's way to gain midfield supremacy.

N'Golo Kante has grown as a player at Chelsea. The Frenchman has played in multiple positions under different managers and has still managed to perform admirably.

Edited by Bhargav

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