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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
ANALYST
Modified 27 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

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
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.

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Published 27 Apr 2021
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