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Real Madrid are the defending champions after their triumph in last year’s competition
Chelsea are having a poor season in the Premier League but are still standing in Europe
Real Madrid should have too much quality for a goal-shy Chelsea team on Wednesday
The odds for Real Madrid vs Chelsea are from the DraftKings sportsbook. We recommend creating an account, then you can get a deposit bonus up to $1000.
Chelsea have struggled for goals all season long and they could draw another blank in this one.
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After a 3-2 loss to Villarreal at the weekend, Real Madrid fell 12 points adrift of top spot in La Liga. Barcelona, the champions-elect, have a game in hand on their arch-rivals. It is safe to say Madrid will not be winning the title this season.
That does not mean they do not have anything left to play for, though. Underlining their inconsistency in Spain this term, Madrid thrashed Barcelona 4-0 a few days before the defeat by Villarreal. That victory came in the Copa del Rey, sending Carlo Ancelotti’s side through to the final, where they will do battle with Osasuna next month.
More significantly, Madrid are still standing in the Champions League - and given their record in this competition, few would bet against them going all the way.
After all, the Blancos are the defending champions. Their triumph last year was extraordinary, featuring as it did multiple comebacks. Madrid beat the champions of France (Paris Saint-Germain), the holders (Chelsea) and the champions of England (Manchester City) on the way to the final, where they edged out Liverpool in Paris.
Madrid have won this competition 14 times, which is double the number of successes of the next-best AC Milan. Within their squad are players who have lifted the trophy on five occasions. With four wins to his name, Ancelotti is the most successful manager in the history of Europe’s premier tournament.
The best online sportsbooks give Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Napoli a greater chance of victory this time around, but Madrid will relish the fact they are not the favorites. Despite their disappointing campaign in La Liga, the Blancos are a force to be reckoned with on the continent. No one, including Chelsea, will relish facing them in the Champions League.
This has been a largely dismal campaign for Chelsea, who may well finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table for the first time since 1995/96, long before they became a major force in European soccer.
Remarkably, a team that has spent around $750m on new signings this season is just 12 points clear of the relegation zone and a mammoth 34 adrift of Arsenal in the top spot. Chelsea also suffered early eliminations from the FA Cup and the EFL Cup, two tournaments they reached the final of in 2022/23.
Chelsea are onto their third manager of the campaign after making the decision to part ways with Graham Potter last week. Frank Lampard, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and a bona fide legend at Stamford Bridge, has been employed until the end of the season in what is his second spell as manager.
The Champions League is the only thing Chelsea have left to play for, so the stakes could hardly be higher on Wednesday. Under Thomas Tuchel, the Blues turned in a fantastic performance at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, almost overturning a 3-1 deficit from the first leg. The players who took part in that match will no doubt draw a belief from it.
Meanwhile, optimists among the club’s fan base will point out that, at this stage of the 2011/12 and 2020/21 competitions, Chelsea were widely written off. On both occasions, they upset the odds by going on to win the Champions League.
A repeat this time around looks unlikely. In neither of those aforementioned seasons were Chelsea 11th in the Premier League table going into the quarter-finals.
There is no shortage of talent within the squad at Lampard’s disposal, but a lack of coherence will surely be a barrier to success in the toughest club competition on the planet.
Real Madrid are the masters of raising their game when they need to. There is no soccer team in the world that handles big occasions as adeptly as the Blancos, whose players invariably draw confidence from the club’s rich history in continental competition.
That is one reason why visiting teams struggle to emerge victorious at the Bernabeu in the Champions League.
Seven of their last eight European games at home have ended with Madrid victorious. Their sole defeat by Chelsea was in effect redundant since Ancelotti’s side advanced on aggregate anyway.
The Blues are simply not playing well enough to have any confidence in their ability to pull off a shock result on Wednesday. Scoring goals has been a particular problem all season long.
Lampard’s men drew a blank in a 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Chelsea have the joint-seventh worst attacking record in the Premier League.
That does not bode well for what will be an extremely difficult trip to the Spanish capital. A home win and a clean sheet is the way to go in this one.
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Teams: Real Madrid vs Chelsea
Location: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
Date and Time: Apr. 12 , 2023, 3 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Paramount+
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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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