Antonio Rudiger is fit to start while N’Golo Kante and Jorginho should also return to the lineup when Chelsea face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.
Chelsea will be hoping to make it to the finals of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League, when they lock horns with La Liga champions Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the semi-final second leg.
Heading into the game, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel does not have to contend with any fresh injury concerns. However, ex-Real Madrid ace Mateo Kovacic remains unavailable for the contest. There is some positive news, though, with Antonio Rudiger set to be available again after missing the weekend Premier League clash against Fulham with a facial injury.
“I can give you the status right now which is that Mateo will not be in the squad. I think Toni will be fine to play with a mask and he trained with us yesterday. Everyone else trained yesterday too and will be out training with us later today. Hopefully we will have no new injuries from today’s training, so that means everyone is available for the match except for Mateo Kovacic,” Tuchel said in his pre-match press conference.
Rudiger’s availability should force a change in the backline, with Kurt Zouma set to make way for the German international in Chelsea’s three-man backline. Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen ought to hold on to their places in the side, sitting in front of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who was in fine form at the weekend.
There ought to be a change in the right wing-back slot, with Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta likely to come into the side, at the expense of Reece James, to offer more defensive solidity to the side. On the opposite side, however, there is no looking past Ben Chilwell, who has firmly established himself as the preferred option ahead of Marcos Alonso.
Changes will be made in the centre of the park as well, with youngster Billy Gilmour set to drop out to the bench after a rare start against Fulham. Replacing him will be star man and top performer from the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the first leg, N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman made a brief cameo at the weekend but should be part of the starting XI against Los Blancos.
Partnering him in the middle of the park should be Italy international Jorginho, who was rested at the weekend by Tuchel. This should allow Mason Mount to move into a more advanced role on the pitch, with the in-for academy graduate set to pair up alongside Christian Pulisic in the attacking midfield slots.
As for the centre-forward slot, Timo Werner’s pace would be well-suited for Chelsea if they decide to play on the counter against Real Madrid on Wednesday. However, after scoring twice in the win against Fulham at the weekend, Kai Havertz is deserving of a starting berth once again.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz