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Champions League Semi-Final: Chelsea vs Real Madrid Preview

Chelsea and Real Madrid go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with a place in the Champions League final up for grabs.

The tie is finely poised after the two sides fought out a 1-1 draw in Madrid, and their second meeting is expected to be just as tight.

Madrid are chasing a record 14th Champions League success – a tally that would put them seven in front of AC Milan in the all-time list.

Los Blancos’ hopes of success were boosted over the weekend as Eden Hazard got 72 minutes under his belt following a long spell on the sidelines.

The former Chelsea star has struggled to make his mark at Madrid, but looked in decent shape during the 2-0 victory over Osasuna.

Hazard operated in the number 10 role behind Karim Benzema and could be a major threat to Chelsea’s hopes if he plays the same position on Wednesday.

Manager Zinedine Zidane indicated after the game that he was happy with Hazard’s performance and it would be no surprise to see him in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge.

While Hazard’s return to action is a boost for Madrid, their hopes of success have been dealt a blow with the news that Raphael Varane has been ruled out with a thigh injury.

The France international suffered the injury in the first-half of Saturday’s game, and was unable to continue after the break.

However, Zidane will have defenders Ferland Mendy and Sergio Ramos available, with the pair successfully coming through a training session on Monday.

Mateo Kovacic is likely to miss out for the home side after he suffered a setback in training, but Antonio is expected to recover from the knock he sustained in the first leg.

Mason Mount was forced off with a back problem late in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Fulham, but it is unlikely to prevent him from playing against Madrid.

The teams had previously met in just three fixtures before the first leg of this tie, with Chelsea recording two victories in UEFA finals.

The other meeting finished as a draw, meaning that Madrid are yet to break their duck against the English side.

Despite this, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Madrid can come out on top, most notably their away record during the knockout phase of this season’s competition.

They triumphed 1-0 at Atalanta in the round of 16 before securing a 0-0 draw at Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

Keeping a clean sheet would vastly improve Madrid’s chances of progression and they are perfectly capable of keeping things tight.

While Chelsea have generally been sound at the back under Thomas Tuchel, goals have proved hard to come by since he replaced Frank Lampard as manager.

Madrid are unlikely to find things easy at Stamford Bridge, but they are fancied to nick a 1-0 victory to book their place in the final.

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