Champions League QF preview: Chelsea-Real Madrid, Napoli-AC Milan | Football News
Two intriguing Champions League quarterfinal second-leg matches await on Tuesday evening with a renewed rivalry between old foes in one and a spicy all-Italian clash in the other.
Real Madrid are on course for the semifinals after beating Chelsea 2-0 in the first leg of the quarterfinals in Spain last week. Chelsea are short on confidence and form, having lost all three games under interim manager Frank Lampard but have a point to prove at home.
And while AC Milan are hoping to move a step closer to reviving their past European glories, Napoli are aiming to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time.
Chelsea vs Real Madrid
When: Tuesday, April 18
Where: Stamford Bridge, London
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Real Madrid strolled to victory over Chelsea at home last week and will be confident of reaching their 11th Champions League semifinal in 13 seasons. Madrid is aiming to win the trophy for a record-extending 15th time this year.
Madrid had to dig deep to survive against Chelsea in the second leg of their quarterfinal in Madrid last season despite holding a 3-1 first-leg advantage.
Chelsea, which defeated Madrid en route to winning the 2021 Champions League, are on a dire run of form – currently sitting 11th in the Premier League. But they will look to draw on their history of overcoming the odds in the competition.
The winner of the tie will face Bayern Munich or Manchester City in the semifinals.
Chelsea’s Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek return from injuries. The Blues will miss centre back Kalidou Koulibaly to a thigh injury while Carney Chukwuemeka and Armando Broja are also unfit. Ben Chilwell is suspended after being sent off in the first leg.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was able to rotate the squad during Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Cadiz on Saturday to keep most of his key players fresh for Chelsea. Left back Ferland Mendy will be Madrid’s only absentee on Tuesday.
Lampard said descriptions of his team as “broken” were too strong but admitted Chelsea were not playing at the level they should be.
“It’s down to us as a team to play with desire and know-how to turn this game around,” he said. “I’ve been here too many times on a Champions League night not to understand that the atmosphere is going to be great. It is down to us to engage the crowd.”
Former Chelsea boss Ancelotti believes Chelsea will still be determined to prove a point by stunning Madrid in the second leg.
“Chelsea has a difficult moment. I’m thinking the game tomorrow can be a great opportunity for them to move from this situation,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“Ninety minutes remain, and in this type of competition, anything can happen,” he said. “We’ll be ready to play at our best.”
Napoli vs AC Milan
When: Tuesday, April 18
Where: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples
Kickoff: 19:00 GMT
The all-Italian clash is wide open after a tight first leg. Milan will take confidence from their 4-0 away victory over Napoli in the league on April 2. But Napoli, on the brink of a first Scudetto in 33 years, will fancy their chances in front of a raucous home crowd, especially with the return of their star striker from injury.
Milan won the last of its seven European titles in 2007 while Napoli is in the quarterfinals for the first time.
The winner of the tie will face Inter Milan or Benfica in the semifinals.
Serie A top scorer Victor Osimhen is back from an injured abductor muscle in his left leg that kept him out of Napoli’s 1-0 loss in the first game last week. The defeat at the San Siro also cost Napoli two key players for Tuesday night’s clash with midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and starting centre back Kim Min-jae both suspended.
Milan striker Olivier Giroud has been cleared to play the second leg after an Achilles tendon issue, but questions remain over his fitness.
Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti says Osimhen’s return will more than make up for other missing players.
“We have a few absences,” he told reporters, “but we earn more with the presence of Osimhen than we lose with those absences because he will probably be left one-on-one as Milan come after you. They like to press.”
“You always have the chance to overturn any deficit, and I expect the team to do everything necessary during the match to do that,” he said.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli said he believes it’s “50-50” over who will advance.
“Thinking about defending would be a mistake,” Pioli said.
“We have a minimal advantage against a squad that has scored an average of three, four goals at home in the Champions League,” he said. “We’ve got to play our game, as a squad, and control the ball well when we have it.”