In the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal match tonight against Real Madrid, Chelsea’s players will have their hands full as they attempt to overcome a two-goal deficit.
The teams renew hostilities at Stamford Bridge, with Los Blancos leading 2-0 from their previous meeting at the Bernabeu.
Chelsea have now gone six games without a win since a 3-1 triumph over Leicester City under Graham Potter, but Gallagher’s fortuitous strike against Brighton did at least snap a four-game goalless streak.
The West London giants have now advanced from five of their previous seven Champions League matches after losing the first leg away from home, but they have failed to win any of their last four games at Stamford Bridge.
Similarly, Real Madrid returned to winning ways on Sunday as they closed the gap on Barcelona to ten points while they continued to focus on continental glory, which they since have dominated.
Real Madrid have progressed from 18 of their 19 Champions League knockout ties in which they have won the first leg by at least two clear goals, falling only to eventual runners-up Monaco in 2003-04, and even then Los Blancos were only knocked out courtesy of the now-abolished away goals rule after a 5-5 aggregate draw.
A sixth consecutive Champions League knockout win would also set a new continental record for the 14-time European champions, and their last visit to Stamford Bridge ended in a 1-3 victory, avenging a 2-0 loss to Chelsea in the 2020-21 semi-finals.
Chelsea will be without Ben Chilwell, who was sent off in the first leg, and Frank Lampard, who has lost three games in a row since his re-appointment, may have to rely on Marc Cucurella for left-back duties.
Lampard is set to be without Kalidou Koulibaly, who was seen working with injured Kai Havertz, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Carney Chukwuemeka before of this game.
Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante were left out of the team for the second leg against Brighton, while Reece James, Joao Felix, and Mateo Kovacic should all be called up.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has the luxury to use the full strength of his squad except for Ferland Mendy who is still nursing a calf injury. It is expected that Vinicius Junior will start the game and partner with Ballon D’Or winner, Karim Benzema to inflict more woes on Chelsea and Lampard.
In the meantime, Nigerian star striker Victor Osimhen will be back in action as Napoli, a first-time quarterfinalist, and AC Milan, a seven-time champion, square off for a spot in the Champions League semi-finals.