Chelsea: Mendy, Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Azpilicueta, Mount, Pulisic, Havertz.
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Kovacic, Lukaku, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Bettinelli, Chalobah, Saul, Ziyech, Kenedy, Sarr.
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
Subs: Vallejo, Nacho, Asensio, Marcelo, Lunin, Lucas, Bale, Ceballos, Rodrygo, Mariano, Camavinga, Fuidias.
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)
Tonight’s match officials
- Referee: Clément Turpin
- Referee’s assistants: Nicolas Danos and Cyril Gringore
- Fourth official: Francois Letexier
- Video Assistant Referee: Jérôme Brisard
Thibaut Courtois: As Carlo Ancelotti didn’t fly in to London until today after posting a negative Covid test, he was unavailable for his media duties yesterday.
His son and assistant Davide had been expected to take his place on the touchline tonight, although his lack of a Uefa Pro License may have ruled him out. Chelsea old boy Thibaut Courtois was on hand to talk up Real Madrid’s chances.
“Last season’s tie was different,” he said of Real’s exit a year ago. “There were no fans and it was at the semi-final stage. This is a new season, it’s the first leg of the quarter-finals and we’re all feeling really good and know what’s at stake. We’ll be giving our all to win the game. If we produce the right levels of intensity, we’re capable of winning.”
Thomas Tuchel: “The Champions League is terribly hard all the time,” said Chelsea’s manager during his pre-match press conference. “It’s challenging and demanding of course. But at the same time is what we love. We can deal with it, but it’s what we choose and love. This is what we deal with. It’s nice to have these kinds of experiences.”
“We should be very aware that teams with this kind of quality, flair and experience can produce a special occasion. For us, it’s also a special occasion and it’s why we feel pretty excited. We want to prove a point to ourselves tomorrow. The occasion is special and the opponent is special. That is why we are excited.”
A stone in Real’s shoe: That’s how Chelsea were described in today’s edition of the Spanish sports daily Marca, given the difficulties Real endured against them in their previous encounters.
Chelsea beat Real in last season’s Champions League semi-final and have never lost to their Spanish visitors in – you’d have thought there would be more – five previous encounters dating back to 1971.
Ben Chilwell remains a long-term absentee for CHelsea and is unlikely to feature again this season, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to play tonight as he’s nursing a couple of different injuries to his back and achilles. Christian Pulisic is back in contention for a place in the starting line-up after being rested over the weekend following his late return from international duty with the USA.
The return to fitness of Reece James could prompt Thomas Tuchel to switch to a back three, with James and Marcos Alonso operating as wing-backs. Ruben Loftus-Cheek may make way from the side that lost against Brentford for Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho.
Eden Hazard is out for Real Madrid after undergoing potentially season-ending surgery and will not be reunited with his former Chelsea team-mates. Isco, Miguel Gutierrez and Luka Jovic are also sidelined for Los Blancos.
Chelsea host Real Madrid in the first leg of a mouthwatering quarter-final match-up that is nigh on impossible to call. The reigning champions booked their place in the last eight with a fairly straightforward win over Lille, while Real Madrid advanced courtesy of a commendable comeback against serial Champions League chokers Paris Saint-Germain. A comeback that was simultaneously surprising and monotonously predictable.
Having missed Real’s weekend La Liga win over Celta Vigo, Carlo Ancelotti returns to his old stomping ground, arriving the day after his team having finally tested negative for Covid after several days of trying.
Kick-off at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea got absolutely battered by Brentford on Saturday, is at 8pm (BST). Stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.