Real Madrid - Chelsea possible starting line-ups for Champions League

Zinedine Zidane has already confirmed that his German midfielder Toni Kroos will play in the first leg against Chelsea, but injuries hamper his starting XI.


Barring no late knocks, Toni Kroos will play in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Tuesday. Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane confirmed the German’s involvement during his pre-match press conference. Thomas Tuchel on the other hand has several options available to him as he targets a positive away result.

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Following the words of the French coach on Monday, the German midfielder was seen training with the rest of his teammates at the Valdebebas facilities and appeared to have no negative reaction to the discomfort that kept him out of the recent games against Getafe, Cádiz and Betis. He may be at his physical limit, but this last week has allowed him to rest and recover as he looks to be a key figure once again in the final stretch of the season.

Almost always present in the competition Ferland Mendy will not be in the squad, still injured. Until now he had only missed the first game against Shakhtar Donetsk. The choice at left back is either the ageing Marcelo, the natural replacement, or to continue using the versatile Nacho.

With Mendy's absence, Zidane is without four players who would normally have started this game at the Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano. Sergio Ramos is back training on his own on the pitch, but now will have to make his impact in the second leg. Fede Valverde is still isolated after testing positive for covid-19. And then there’s one of Zidane’s reliable few, Lucas Vázquez, whose knee injury has him out for the remainder of this campaign.

With the return of Kroos, Zidane can call upon his magnificent trio in midfield, so it’s likely that he will plump for a 1-4-3-3 formation. If that is the case, the main doubt surrounds the attacking players to support the main goal threat of Benzema. Asensio, Vinicius and Hazard will fight it out for the two places.

Real Madrid’s predicted starting XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Varane, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Vinicius and Benzema.

Tuchel's Chelsea has an abundance of options

Chelsea are preparing for the assault on the Di Stéfano with a similar formation to the one Zidane will use. Tuchel will almost certainly go for a five-man defence and a strong middle with the role of his full-backs crucial.

The German coach is expected to start with Mendy in goal, who has taken Kepa's place in the eleven, with Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Rüdiger supported wide by Reece James on the right and Chilwell on the left as wing-backs. How the game pans out will determine in which half they spend most of their time, but should be given the chance if Kanté and Jorginho are set up to cover.

The Frenchman will be the lock and destroyer while the Italian will be the creator. Up front, we think that the three attackers chosen will be Mount, Pulisic and Werner, although Havertz may well take the American’s place.

Tuchel’s strength in depth - following a number of signings over the past year - means he has more options if things are not going to plan with the likes of Marcos Alonso, Christensen, Tammy Abraham, Havertz, Zouma, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi and Ziyech all capable of providing a different dimension.

Chelsea's predicted starting XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount; Werner; Pulisic.