Europe’s top dogs Real Madrid host crisis club Chelsea in the Spanish capital this evening in a Champions League quarter-final first-leg tussle that Los Blancos will expect to dominate at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
With their La Liga title all but relinquished, Real seem to be putting all of their eggs in a continental basket this season and their head coach and UCL specialist Carlo Ancelotti should have his players highly motivated ahead of a crucial encounter with his old employers.
As per the usual routine, I’ve laid out an info-jammed stats pack for this evening’s contest below which should equip you with everything you need and more to take on the bet builder markets with confidence. Use the research alongside the extras in my Stats Pack Guide to maximise your results.
Real Madrid’s squad is fit and stacked with quality ahead of this evening’s first leg, with left-back Ferland Mendy listed as Los Blancos’ only absentee at present. Eduardo Camavinga could fill in as an unorthodox left back in the Frenchman’s absence.
Carlo Ancelotti named Eder Militao, Federico Valverde, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos on the bench against Villarreal at the weekend, and though his selection gamble resulted in a surprise 3-2 loss, Real’s rested players should be fresh and firing today. Antonio Rudiger and Thibaut Courtois are set to start against their old club.
Frank Lampard set Chelsea up with a flat back four on his return to the Blues’ dugout at the weekend, and though his charges lost 1-0 at Wolves, the interim boss is unlikely to switch back to a three-man defence this evening.
N’Golo Kante was wrapped in cotton wool on Saturday due to a minor ailment, though the French midfielder should be restored to the XI in Madrid at the expense of Conor Gallagher. Raheem Sterling should keep his place in attack alongside Kai Havertz and Atletico-loanee Joao Felix. Former Real employee, Mateo Kovacic, will be keen to impress against his old club.
Current European champions Real Madrid are 13 points behind rivals Barcelona in La Liga, though Los Blancos have looked the part in the Champions League again and they dumped Liverpool out of the competition in convincing fashion in the tournament’s previous round.
Real have been on the money in attack with their goals and xG for figures per 90 exactly the same, which highlights their ability to gobble up any chances that fall their way. The card count in their matches has been high overall this term, though they have picked up just six cautions in the Champions League, which is fewer than any other team involved. Chelsea (19 cards) rank second highest in that regard and the Blues are a generous 11/10 to collect more cards than their hosts later on.
Chelsea (11th) are enduring a nightmarish campaign in the Premier League this season and their goals for per 90 stat for the campaign puts their main issue firmly into focus. The Blues just cannot put the ball in the net and their xG figures (1.30 p/90) point to a stark underachieving streak in the final third.
The Londoners’ shots (10.73) and shots on target against (3.93) numbers measure up well against Real Madrid’s however, while Chelsea have also won 42 corners to Real’s 48 in the Champions League. Five of Chelsea’s eight games in the UCL have also produced under 2.5 goals, as have 12 of their last 14 assignments in all competitions.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
The ageless Karim Benzema just keeps producing the goods for Real Madrid and his 1.66 shots on target per 90 figure for the campaign is unmatched elsewhere at the club. In the Champions League, the 35-year-old has been hitting 2.7 accurate attempts p/90 and Benzema is a generous 4/6 to clock at least 2+ shots on target this evening.
Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius Junior has been pinging 1.22 shots per 90 overall and 2.6 per runout in the Champions League and the 22-year-old could add weight to your coupon at 3/10 to lodge 1+ efforts on target later on. A potent threat from set pieces, Eder Militao (0.86), could be one to include at 2/5 from the 1+ shots market.
Chelsea racked up just 13 attempts in Frank Lampard’s first game back in the saddle at Wolves at the weekend, with just one of those strikes – unleashed by Joao Felix – hitting the target. The Portuguese starlet has been the Blues’ best performer across both shooting metrics this term and the 23-year-old looks like the safest bet at 10/11 to register 1+ shots on target in Madrid.
Kai Havertz (1.10) is 5/6 in the same market, while in favour again Raheem Sterling, who has bags of Champions League experience, is available to back at 13/10 to ping 1+ accurate attempts on goal in Madrid.
Player Goals and Assists
Veteran hitman Karim Benzema plundered hattricks in successive games for Real Madrid before he drew a blank at the weekend, and the French striker, who always rises to the occasion in the UCL, hit three goals over two legs against Liverpool in the Last 16.
Benzema is very backable at 10/11 to score anytime again today, while winger Vinicius Junior, who has bagged five goals and two assists in his last five appearances in the Champions League, should also pique your interest at 8/11 to either score or assist again later on.
Chelsea have failed to score in each of their last three games and in four of their last six assignments on the road, so approach the goal-getting markets with caution today. If you are determined to add a Blues player to your docket, leading marksman Kai Havertz could tick a box at 7/2 in the anytime stakes.
Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling, who is Chelsea’s leading scorer in the UCL with three goals this term, is priced at 13/5 to either score or assist. Pickings are relatively slim here, however. Joao Felix for instance, has scored just once in his last ten appearances for the Blues.
Only a handful of teams have been posting strong average possession figures than Real Madrid in the Champions League this season, and while Chelsea are listed among those sides, the Blues probably won’t be as hungry for the ball under Frank Lampard.
In the individual arena, Aurelien Tchouameni (69.4 passes p/90), is even money to beat a 70+ passes target today, while stand-in left-back Eduardo Camavinga (57.8) should turn heads at 1/3 to top 50 passes in Madrid. Elsewhere, German technician Toni Kroos has topped 90 passes in three of his last six starts for Real and the 33-year-old is 6/5 to repeat that trick this evening.
Chelsea could adopt a cautious approach in this evening’s first-leg in Madrid and a low block coupled with a counter-attacking outlook could keep the distribution numbers low in their ranks.
Midfield metronome Enzo Fernandez is a genuine string-puller, though he probably won’t match his passing averages later on. Mateo Kovacic (67.9) could perhaps be a safer option at 2/5 to make 50 or more passes. Kalidou Koulibaly, who has played north of 80 passes in eight of his last ten starts for Chelsea, could be another one to consider at even money in the 70+ stakes.
Real Madrid Cards and Fouls
As rounded a player as he is, Eduardo Camavinga won’t be entirely comfortable if he fills in at left back today and the versatile Frenchman, who has been committing fouls at a rate of 1.54 per 90 this term, is 11/10 to sin at least twice this evening.
On the opposite side, the wily Dani Carvajal (0.93) is a master at committing small fouls and the 31-year-old is a tempting option at 1/2 to give away 1+ free kicks later on. The fiery Vinicius Junior (1.63) is also of interest at 5/6 in the 2+ fouls range.
Restored to the right flank, Raheem Sterling (1.59) will hope to use his pace and tricky to unsettle fill-in left-back Eduardo Camavinga in Madrid. Joao Felix (2.74) will be determined to test Dani Carvajal’s mettle with his array of tricks on the opposite side.
Reece James’s marauding runs are a major part of Chelsea’s tactical blueprint, though the England international – who has been fouled 1.34 times per 90 – could have his advances down the right checked by Vinicius Junior.
Match-Ups to watch
Eduardo Camavinga vs Raheem Sterling
Dani Carvajal vs Joao Felix
Vinicius Junior vs Reece James
Chelsea Cards and Fouls
Mateo Kovacic is a combative presence in midfield for Chelsea and there should be even more of an edge to the Croatian’s game today when he returns to his old stomping ground. Kovacic is 15/8 to pick up a card and 2/5 to commit 1+ fouls in Madrid.
The aforementioned head-to-head between Reece James (0.67) and Vinicius Junior should be an enthralling individual battle down Real’s left flank. Brazilian Vinicius is one of football’s most dynamic dribblers and he picks up his fair share of bruises and bumps as a result. James could have his work cut out against him and the 23-year-old is 1/3 to clock just a single foul.
Hard-working presser, Kai Havertz (2.20 fouls p/90), is 8/13 to maintain his average for the season with at least two fouls later on. The niggly German is a consistent performer in the markets for that metric and he committed six fouls over two legs against Dortmund in the UCL’s Last 16.
Foul-magnet, Aurelien Tchouameni (1.39) could draw more unwanted attention in midfield from the bustling Mateo Kovacic in the Spanish capital today, while Vinicius Junior, who has been fouled a shin-splintering 4.03 times per 90, faces an aggressive opponent in Reece James later on.
Eder Militao meanwhile, draws more fouls than any other Real Madrid defender and the battle-hardened Brazilian will be preparing for a physical altercation with Kai Havertz this evening.
Match-Ups to watch
Mateo Kovacic vs Aurelien Tchouameni
Kai Havertz vs Eder Militao
Reece James vs Vinicius Junior
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
I’ll be posting my bet builder one lineups are confirmed. Just check back at 6:30pm and it’ll be live on my Football Tip Page.