Chelsea have absolutely no chance against Real Madrid. The 2-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu only served to prove the gulf in class between the two teams as the 14-time European champions put the 10-man Chelsea to the sword.
They could have scored more, but in truth, it doesn’t really matter. Frank Lampard has been unable to make any sort of impact on this Chelsea side and their 2-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend only exacerbated the frustration around the club since Todd Boehly took charge. Lampard’s charges now sit 11th in the Premier League table, and the Champions League remains their only hope of salvaging something from this miserable season.
But the bookies have written them off, as have their own fans. Betfred have them priced at 50/1 to win the entire competition for the third time in their history, while they are 6/1 to qualify against Real Madrid. Statistical website FiveThirtyEight gives them an 8% chance of making the final four, while Madrid are the second favourites to win the entire competition.
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But when Chelsea have no chance they are at their most dangerous. There are no expectations for those travelling to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, yet this is a stadium that has seen several epic European comebacks in unlikely circumstances. In 2012, under another legendary player turned interim manager - Roberto di Matteo - they pulled off several Champions League upsets to keep themselves alive in the competition. They were 3-1 down after a torrid first leg in Naples in the last 16. Lampard’s own penalty made the scores level at Stamford Bridge before Branislav Ivanovic headed home an unlikely winner to send Chelsea to the last eight. The atmosphere crackled that night in west London, but it was just the prelude of things to come.
They beat Benfica 2-1 at home to take themselves through to the final four as Raul Meireles scored an injury time winner, and in doing so they set up a meeting with arguably the greatest club side we have ever seen: Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. Now everybody remembers what happened in the second leg - the John Terry red card, the Lionel Messi missed penalty and the Fernando Torres goal that caused Gary Neville’s goal-gasm. But the heroics in the Nou Camp were only possible because of a terrific first leg performance at Stamford Bridge.
An immense defensive display saw Barca hit the woodwork twice but fail to score a goal, while Didier Drogba found the net just before half-time to give Chelsea a precious lead. They had just 18% possession and three shots on goal, but none of that mattered as they took a lead to Spain which they were able to defend.
The belief was at an all time high around the club in 2012. Eleven years later, things couldn’t be more different as the Roman Abramovich era has ended and Boehly’s intriguing debut season continues to bemuse. Kepa Arrizabalaga stated that the American owner regularly comes into the dressing room to give them pep talks, with his latest coming after that defeat to Brighton.
If Chelsea pull this one off, given the state they are currently in, it will arguably top anything that happened at this stadium in 2012. They are complete no-hopers in this tie, but if Real Madrid become complacent and Chelsea score that first goal, you just never know. Boehly’s arrogance at predicting a 3-0 win in the Spanish capital was misplaced, and now that is the exact result Chelsea need if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals
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