Real Madrid vs Chelsea: Can Caicedo get revenge on England defenders?
Real Madrid begin the Champions League group stage today with a clash against Chelsea - a side containing England stars who ended Linda Caicedo’s World Cup dreams.
Linda Caicedo has been Real Madrid’s top assist provider this season, with five (four in the Liga F, one in the Champions League). Most recently, the 18-year-old set up one in Las Blancas’ 7-1 league thrashing of Real Sociedad - a game in which she again played in the hole, just behind striker Signe Bruun.
In the wake of Caroline Weir’s ACL injury, which has ruled the Scot out for most of the season, Madrid boss Alberto Toril has deployed Caicedo at No. 10 to great effect; the Colombian has brought dynamism and versatility to the team’s attack.
In-form Caicedo ready for Chelsea
Now, as Madrid prepare for their first Champions League group-stage game of the campaign, Caicedo is primed for a reunion with members of the England side that ended Colombia’s World Cup hopes in the summer.
Today at 3pm ET/12 noon PT, Madrid host Chelsea on matchday one of Champions League Group D, in the Spaniards’ third meeting with the West Londoners. Madrid will be looking for their first ever win over the visitors, having so far been restricted to a draw and a defeat in the sides’ previous clashes.
Madrid boss praises Caicedo impact
“Losing Weir was a real blow to us,” Toril told reporters ahead of the match at the Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano. “She’s a vital player for us and was the best player in the Spanish league last season.
“We’ve tried to look for solutions, and there are players, like Linda, who have really stepped up and grabbed their chance with both hands. So we’ve overcome that difficulty and are raring to go.”
Having previously been used on the left wing for Madrid, Caicedo’s move into a more central role has allowed her to operate with greater freedom and link up the play more effectively. The teenager is also getting into dangerous positions inside the opposition’s penalty box more often.
Although she has only scored one goal so far this term, her influence on Madrid’s attack has been crucial - both in Europe, where Toril’s team reached the Champions League group phase after a round-two victory over Norwegians Valerenga; and in the Liga F, where the capital side are just three points behind leaders Barcelona.
Caicedo to cross swords with Bright, Carter once more
Against Chelsea, Caicedo is set to do battle with defenders Millie Bright and Jess Carter, who both started for England in the Lionesses’ World Cup quarter-final win over Colombia in August.
In Sydney, the English backline kept Caicedo well shackled, reducing the youngster’s attacking impact on the left wing. In her new role, however, Caicedo may well prove harder to pin down.
Today at the Di Stéfano, the forward will seek revenge for that defeat, as Madrid chase an opening win in a Champions League group that they also share with Sweden’s Häcken and France’s Paris FC.