Five things hapless Chelsea MUST do to have any chance of beating Real Madrid

Five things hapless Chelsea MUST do to have any chance of beating Real Madrid

Chelsea Real Madrid GFX

There was no new manager bounce for Chelsea at Wolves on Saturday, as Frank Lampard watched his new team suffer a dismal 1-0 loss that leaves them closer to the Premier League’s relegation zone than it does the top

“I was relying on the players on Saturday a little bit and giving some messaging, which we did as much as we could,” the Blues caretaker boss admitted after the game.

Lampard inherited an extremely bloated squad from Graham Potter on the back of the club’s unprecedented January transfer splurge, and he’s ready to experiment with the line up in order to deliver a turnaround in fortunes.

“It’s a clean slate for everyone and that’s the challenge to all the players over the next few weeks,” he added.

A lack of goals is the biggest concern for Lampard, with Chelsea having failed to find the net in eight of their last 13 games across all competitions.

It’s fair to say, then, that Real Madrid won’t be quaking in their boots when the Blues arrive at Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday. The reigning European champions saw off a much better Chelsea side at the same stage of last season’s competition, and are many people’s favourites to win the European Cup again come June 10.

However, Lampard will be out to turn the script on its head, and he has unfinished business in the Champions League, having been sacked by Chelsea in January 2021 before their unlikely run to glory under Thomas Tuchel.

Unleash James & Chilwell

Chilwell James Chelsea 2022-23

Chelsea only recorded one shot on target against Wolves as they offered little to no attacking threat after setting up in a 4-3-3 formation.

Lampard ditched Potter’s preferred 3-4-2-1 system in an attempt to freshen things up, but in doing so, he restricted the two most dangerous players in his squad.

Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who just so happens to be Lampard’s uncle, pointed out the issue after the game, telling Sky Sports: “I think they’re perfect to set-up with three at the back. They’ve got [great] wing-backs in [Ben] Chillwell and [Reece] James, you’ve got centre halves galore.”

James and Chilwell are both finally back to full fitness after a nightmare time with respective injuries, and they carry a huge threat in the final third when deployed in their favoured wing-back positions, which is where Lampard must use them against Real.

The two England internationals can provide the width that Chelsea sorely need, and create space for the likes of Joao Felix and Kai Havertz to really make an impact.

Raheem Sterling 2022-23

Let Sterling lead the line

Chelsea only have one natural centre-forward on their books right now in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he was exiled by Potter before his sacking.

Unfortunately for Lampard, he can’t even bring the Gabon striker back into the starting line up against Madrid because he was left out of Chelsea’s final squad for the Champions League knockout phase.

Felix and Havertz have been favoured to lead the Blues’ attack as a result, but Raheem Sterling should get the nod when they travel to Spain in midweek.

“Raheem has been there and done it and there’s history of producing,” Lampard has said ahead of the first leg. “I think he’s a fantastic player.”

That history includes a trophy-laden six-year spell at Manchester City that saw him score 131 goals in 339 games. Sterling often operated as a false nine under Pep Guardiola, showing off an impressive knack of getting in behind defences and finishing with aplomb.

With Havertz’s confidence low, Sterling is the best option Chelsea have through the middle right now, and he could have plenty of joy against a Real backline that was torn apart by Villarreal in their latest La Liga outing.

Keep Vinicius Junior quiet

Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2022-23

If Chelsea are to have any hope of progressing to the semi-finals, then they have to stop Madrid’s new main man: Vinicius Junior.

Karim Benzema is still the Blancos’ top goalscorer and has been in fine form since the March international break, but Vinicius is the one who puts the chances on a plate for the veteran French forward.

He is also the player that sparks Real into life at the top end of the pitch, whether by skipping past defenders or playing one-twos in and around the box to open up space.

The Brazilian is almost unstoppable in full flow, and has a useful habit of delivering in the biggest matches – as evidenced by his match-winning display in last season’s Champions League final.

James even named Vinicius as one of his toughest-ever opponents in a Q&A session on social media in December, but the full-back did a stellar job of restricting his impact in the second leg of Chelsea’s clash with Real last term.

Lampard will need a repeat performance from James this time around if the Blues are to pick up a positive result at the Bernabeu to take back to Stamford Bridge on April 18.

Target Real’s weak left-side

Eduardo Camavinga Real Madrid

Madrid were already out of the Spanish title race prior to Saturday’s home encounter against Villarreal, but the manner of their defeat should be a cause for concern for Carlo Ancelotti.

Samuel Chukwueze scored a double for the visitors, including a sublime winner that saw him ghost past Nacho before rifling the ball into the far corner of Thibaut Courtois’ net.

The Nigeria international was a menace throughout the contest as he exposed Real’s glaring deficiencies on the left.

Nacho, Eduardo Camavinga and David Alaba have all filled in at left-back in the absence of the injured Ferland Mendy since the turn of the year, with underwhelming results.

Camavinga is set to get the nod again against Chelsea, and although he is improving gradually, he is not a natural fit for the role.

Chelsea would be wise to target that side, with James likely to get a lot of joy if he’s given the freedom to bomb forward.

Pray Kante is fit enough for a game at this level


N’Golo Kante made his first start for Chelsea in seven months in their goalless draw with Liverpool at the start of April, having finally made a full recovery from surgery on a hamstring injury.

The 32-year-old looked like he’d never been away, winning the ball back time and time again before pushing the Blues onto the front foot, and he was even unlucky to miss out on an assist after setting up Mateo Kovacic for a good chance.

Chelsea have lacked bite in midfield throughout their miserable 2022-23 campaign, but they could still salvage something special if Kante can maintain full fitness.

Lampard is taking no risks with the World Cup winner, as the Blues head coach rested him for the clash with Wolves so that he is in the best possible shape for the trip to Madrid.

Chelsea now desperately need Kante’s body to hold up on the European stage. The France international is possibly the only man in Lampard’s squad that will inspire genuine fear in the Real ranks right now, and they won’t be able to get into a rhythm if he is constantly nipping at the heels of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Co.

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