Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink reckons the Blues are capable of beating Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
The two European heavyweights will meet in the knockouts of the competition for the third straight season. The first leg is scheduled for April 12 at the Santiago Bernabeu, while the tie will conclude at Stamford Bridge six days later.
Chelsea and Real Madrid clashed horns in the last eight during the 2021-22 campaign. Los Blancos won 3-1 away before the Blues won the second leg 3-2 in extra time but were eliminated 5-4 on aggregate.
They also met in the semifinals of the 2020-21 season. This time, the two teams drew in Madrid before the Premier League giants won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to seal a 3-1 win on aggregate on their way to glory.
Hasselbaink believes Chelsea will need to take inspiration from that last-four victory two seasons ago. He told The Hindustan Times (as quoted by Metro):
‘‘If you want to win the Champions League, you have to beat the best. ‘It’s not going to be an easy game, but you have to believe. We have done it in the past, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.’’
The tie holds plenty of importance for both sides, given their league form. Real Madrid are 12 points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga with 12 games to go. Chelsea, meanwhile, are tenth in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of the final Champions League qualification spot.
How have Chelsea and Real Madrid fared in Champions League this season?
Chelsea endured a difficult path to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. They lost their opening group game against Dinamo Zagreb and drew against RB Salzburg to put their knockout hopes in jeopardy. However, two wins over AC Milan followed by 2-1 victories over Zagreb and Salzburg helped them finish atop Group E.
In the Round of 16, the Blues suffered a 1-0 defeat against Borussia Dortmund in the away leg. Graham Potter’s side then rallied to a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge to make it to the last eight.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, kept things simple throughout their Champions League campaign. The holders began with a 3-0 win at Celtic before beating RB Leipzig 2-0 and Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1. Carlo Ancelotti’s men then drew 1-1 with Shakhtar before suffering a shock 3-2 defeat at Leipzig. However, a 5-1 thrashing of Celtic in their final group game ensured top spot in Group F.
Madrid fell 2-0 behind in their last-16 first leg against Liverpool at Anfield but stormed back to win 5-2. They then won 1-0 at home in the second leg to secure their passage to the last eight.