• Dan Tracey


With the Chelsea women’s outfit earning a place in this season Champions League final, it is now up to the men to do the same and with Emma Hayes preparing to lead her side out at a showpiece event, Thomas Tuchel will have desires to emulate such a feat.

Of course, Tuchel knows what it is like to lead a team out in European club football’s biggest game of the season and after suffering defeat with PSG last summer, he will eventually look to go one better this time around.

However, he and his Chelsea squad cannot dream of delight in Istanbul just yet, as the road to the Turkish city still has one more junction to navigate and it is one that comes with the visit of Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

That’s because Stamford Bridge plays host to the second leg of their Champions League Semi-final pairing and with the score ending one goal apiece in last week’s opening sortie, this is a tie that is very much in the balance.

Then again, you could argue that the Blues are ever so slightly in the ascendency and with them possessing a crucial away goal, one wonders just how important that will be once Wednesday’s final whistle is blown.

If Chelsea are to go through, a 0-0 in West London would be sufficient to advance and although that will certainly do, you get the feeling that the former Borussia Dortmund boss will demand rather more from his players.

However, demanding more does come with its own risk and the more Chelsea look to prise open Real Madrid, the more they could leave themselves susceptible to attack at the other end of the pitch.

While although Real Madrid are not dripping with ‘Galactico’ talent these days, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with and with manager Zinedine Zidane somehow squeezing every last drop out of this squad, he will hope that his players still have a little more in the tank.

Especially when it comes to the talents of Karim Benzema and with the former French international scoring Real Madrid’s equaliser last Tuesday, he will be charged with delivering the goods in the English capital.

If Chelsea can keep Benzema quiet, then it will certainly go some way to nullifying the threat that Real Madrid will look to unleash. Then again, it would be unfair to suggest that Los Blancos are simply a one man team.

Because although the focus will be on the 33-year-old and how to stop him, the 13-time winners of the competition may instead look to win the game in midfield instead and therefore, the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will also need to be under close surveillance.

Which means it will be a genuine test for Chelsea’s young lions and although they gave a particularly good account of themselves last week, the job is only half done. A job that if complete, will see the Blues return to a Champions League final for the first time since their success in 2012.

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