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Back Chelsea to score the first goal
Real Madrid could be caught in two minds in the opening exchanges, whereas the Blues must come out on the front foot at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
If you are looking for some more guidance on how to bet on soccer, our guide runs through all the key points to bear in mind.
Without Karim Benzema, Real Madrid would not be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Los Blancos trailed Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on aggregate with just 30 minutes of their last-16 tie remaining. That was when Benzema clicked into gear. The France international notched a stunning hat-trick to turn the game on its head. PSG had no response and Madrid advanced to the last eight at the expense of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and co.
Remarkably, Benzema found a way to match that feat in his very next appearance in Europe’s foremost competition. Another treble from the Frenchman, this time at Stamford Bridge rather than the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, put Madrid in a commanding position in this quarter-final. There is no longer any doubt about Benzema’s quality. It could even be argued that, in current form, the 34-year-old is the best soccer player in the world.
Benzema understandably dominated the post-match headlines after his stunning exploits in west London, with special praise reserved for his two brilliant headers in the first half. But Madrid were impressive in a broader sense too. They held Chelsea at arm’s length for most of the encounter, denying them clear-cut scoring chances and adeptly blocking their path to the goal.
Kai Havertz did manage to get on the scoresheet for the hosts, but Madrid were good value for their 3-1 win. Carlo Ancelotti has been criticized at times this term, despite the fact his team are on the verge of winning the La Liga title, but the experienced Italian got his tactics to spot on last week. Madrid is now the fourth-favorites to win the Champions League, having been outsiders to beat Chelsea before the tie began.
Thomas Tuchel was disarmingly honest in his assessment of the first leg. Asked in the aftermath whether he felt the tie was still alive, the Chelsea boss replied: “no”. He then expanded on his disappointment at the performance, adding: “If we keep playing like this we will lose at Southampton and then we will get hammered at the Bernabeu.”
Chelsea did not lose at Southampton. They delivered one of their best performances of the season, winning 6-0 against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s charges. Had they not taken their foot off the gas in the final half an hour, the margin of victory could have been even wider. Still, Chelsea have a mountain to climb on Tuesday. Southampton were in poor form and are not in Madrid’s class. The Bernabeu, needless to say, is a tougher place to go than St Mary’s.
The Blues did beat Real Madrid en route to Champions League glory last term. They were the better team in the away leg of the semi-final, but the fact they only left the Spanish capital with a 1-1 draw underlines how difficult the task they now face is.
The reigning European champions will not want to relinquish their crown without a fight, and we can expect to see an improved display from Chelsea in the second leg. Right now, though, it is hard to envisage Madrid not reaching the semi-finals.
Betting on second legs can sometimes be a tricky business. The aggregate score at the start of the night is not 0-0 but 3-1 to Madrid. That will affect how both teams approach the match and it should also influence your thinking from a betting perspective.
For instance, Madrid are unlikely to go all-out for an early goal. They will be content to sit a little deeper and allow Chelsea the ball in the middle of the park. Ancelotti’s side will still look to pose a threat going forward, but we will not see them overcommit bodies to the attack, especially in the opening 45 minutes.
Chelsea, on the other hand, will look to score an early goal to give Madrid something to think about. If the home team draws first blood instead of the visitors, this tie is surely over.
Tuchel’s charges have not been firing on all cylinders of late, but the bounce backed in style against Southampton, and that victory will have given them renewed belief. It is, moreover, rare for Chelsea not to find the back of the net. With a deficit to make up, back the visitors to the Bernabeu to score the first goal of the game on Tuesday.
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|Real Madrid vs Chelsea Information
|Real Madrid vs Chelsea
|Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
|Tuesday, 12 April 2022, 15.00 PM EDT
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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