Chelsea will head to Real Madrid on Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the key talking points.
Zinedine Zidane did his utmost, and yet the Real Madrid boss could still not escape talk of the now-failed European Super League. Real manager Zidane insisted he does not need to offer under-fire president Florentino Perez his public support. After that, Zidane continually flat-batted the Super League questions in a bid to focus minds on Tuesday’s vital Chelsea clash. Blues boss Thomas Tuchel urged Chelsea fans not to take out their latent Super League anger on the Stamford Bridge club’s players, calling the supporters to unite instead behind his side.
What Chelsea lack in Champions League business-end experience, boss Tuchel believes they more than boast in personality, hunger and attitude. The likeable German boss has told Chelsea “be yourselves” in their bid to topple the mighty Madrid over two legs. With 17 clean sheets already in his short west London tenure, and a record 10 consecutive away games without defeat at the start of his reign, Tuchel’s men certainly possess the grit and regimen. Add an extra spark from one of their array of attacking firebrands, and Chelsea might just pull this off.
The luckless Eden Hazard has battled injury upon injury in his two seasons at Real since his £150million mega transfer from Chelsea in the summer of 2019. The Belgium playmaker is finally back fit, however, and should be in position to feature on Tuesday night. Always genial off the pitch, ever impudent on it, Chelsea know full well just how Hazard can force matches to revolve around his wit, ingenuity and class. Tuchel’s water-tight defence will be tested to the limit.
Real quite clearly fear reprisals from UEFA over their Super League role, in the curious shape of expecting refereeing decisions to go against them. Quite how this idea sprung up into both the Madrid and Chelsea press conferences remains a major oddity – and even more so that anyone would take such a ruse seriously. Tuchel put it best in dismissing the notion out of hand. “I trust 100 per cent in the referee and in UEFA and in the competition,” said Tuchel. “I do not imagine that there is any advantage or disadvantage because of a sports political discussion. I don’t even want to think about it, because it does not exist in my eyes.”