Real Madrid and Chelsea prepare to lock horns in what promises to be an intriguing UEFA Champions League semi-final tie. The two sides are set to lock horns at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium tomorrow, with the Santiago Bernabeu still under renovation.
Los Blancos are looking to win the competition for the fourth time under Zinedine Zidane, while Thomas Tuchel is looking to go one step further after overseeing Paris Saint-Germain's defeat against Bayern Munich in the final last season. Chelsea have improved since the German replaced Frank Lampard at the helm, but Real Madrid are one of the most experienced sides in Europe and will take some beating despite their stuttering form domestically.
Zidane is just three wins away from becoming the first manager in the history of the UEFA Champions League to win the competition four times, with the Frenchman looking to add to his legacy in the competition with another historic triumph.
Another intriguing subplot in the tie is the return of Eden Hazard, who looks set to feature for Real Madrid against former club Chelsea. The Belgian maestro enjoyed seven outstanding years at Stamford Bridge and is hailed as one of the club's greatest ever players, as he left the Blues to join Los Blancos in a big-money deal in 2019.
He has been hampered by injuries in Spain, but Hazard could repay some of the transfer fee by inspiring his side to victory against his former employers.
As the two sides prepare to do battle in Spain, here are five players who could make a big impact in the first leg.
#5 Timo Werner | Chelsea
Timo Werner's first season at Chelsea has been an eventful one, with the striker struggling to get to grips with the English game after sealing a big-money deal from RB Leipzig. He has missed several big chances in front of goal and failed to replicate his form in the Bundesliga, as he continues to divide opinion among the Chelsea faithful.
However, Werner's record makes for interesting reading. In 44 appearances across all competitions, the German international has racked up 11 goals and 12 assists, which is not a bad record for a player experiencing his first taste of English football.
The 24-year-old got a timely boost at the weekend, as he scored the solitary goal of the game in Chelsea's 1-0 win against West Ham. He is set to lead the line against Real Madrid and could really endear himself to Blues fans across the world with a matchwinning display in Spain.
#4 Raphael Varane | Real Madrid
With Sergio Ramos unavailable due to a calf problem, Raphael Varane will be tasked with marshaling Real Madrid's rearguard. The Frenchman capitulated in the UEFA Champions League against Manchester City last season, as he looked lost in Ramos' absence.
Once again, Varane will take center stage in an important game, as he looks set to play alongside Eder Militao. With Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy also missing due to injury, the onus will be on the experienced Frenchman to keep things tidy at the back.
Varane has been linked with a move to Chelsea, but his focus will be on getting one over the Blues to make it through to the final.
#3 Karim Benzema | Real Madrid
Karim Benzema has been Real Madrid's talisman since Cristiano Ronaldo's absence and will once again be tasked with leading the line. The Frenchman has aged like fine wine and is currently one of the most in-form players in world football, as he continues to rack up the goals and cement his legendary status at the club.
The veteran striker didn't get his name on the scoresheet against Liverpool, but his tireless running and movement off the ball caused the Reds a handful of problems. Benzema can be really hard to defend against in full flow and his movement in and around the penalty area tends to open up spaces for the other attackers, so Chelsea will have to be wary of the threat posed by the Frenchman.
The 33-year-old has scored 27 goals in all competitions so far and will look to add to his tally against Chelsea with yet another memorable goal in the UEFA Champions League.
#2 Thiago Silva | Chelsea
Thiago Silva is Chelsea's most experienced defender and knows a thing or two about the big occasions, having played several important games over the course of his illustrious career for club and country. The Brazilian captained Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League final last season and has shown his class since joining Chelsea on a free transfer.
He missed the Round of 16 clash against Atletico Madrid, but Chelsea somehow defied the odds to make it through to the quarterfinals. While FC Porto didn't really challenge Chelsea over two legs in the next round, they are unlikely to be as untroubled against a champion side like Real Madrid.
Silva will need to be at his imperious best and marshal the backline expertly if Chelsea are to stand a chance against the record European champions.
#1 Eden Hazard | Real Madrid
Against his former club, Eden Hazard will undoubtedly be the star attraction, as he prepares to return to the starting XI after a lengthy injury layoff. The Belgian wizard is still adored at Chelsea, having spent seven glorious trophy-laden years at Stamford Bridge before moving to Real Madrid.
Hazard's return to the starting XI could be a massive boost for Zidane, as he looks set to partner Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr in attack. He produced a brilliant cameo after coming off the bench against Real Betis but was unlikely to spearhead his side to a victory, as the game finished 0-0.
However, Zidane looks set to name him in the starting XI tomorrow and he could well be the x-factor Real Madrid, as they look to conquer Europe again.