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(BBC SPORT) Eden Hazard will “want to make a point” after being passed fit for Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final first leg tie against former side Chelsea, said Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.
The Belgium winger has had an injury-hit time since moving for an initial £89m in 2019, scoring only four times.
He came back from his latest problem at the weekend.
“Eden is a top quality player, he was a key player at this club, we have the biggest respect for him,” Tuchel said.
He came on in the 77th minute in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Real Betis. He made one appearance last month before another setback but his last start was on 30 January.
Real boss Zinedine Zidane said: “He’s fine. He was very comfortable when he played the other day and that was the most important thing – he didn’t feel any pain. He’s ready to go now. We’re happy he’s available because he’s going to bring a lot to the team.”
Both managers say their teams deserve to be in the last four of the Champions League despite signing up to a European Super League that threatened big Uefa sanctions. Chelsea have since pulled out of the competition.
“We deserve to be in the semi-final, just like Real Madrid,” said Tuchel.
“And we don’t deserve it because of political decisions, or influence, or size, or nice shirts: we deserve it because we came a long way.”
Zidane said “it is absurd to think we could not be in the Champions League”.
Real left-back Ferland Mendy is out, and captain Sergio Ramos remains unavailable but midfielder Toni Kroos is back after an injury.
Chelsea’s former Real midfielder Mateo Kovacic is their only absentee with a muscle injury.
Blues boss Tuchel will tell his players to “be ourselves” and “rely on our strengths and do the things that make you confident”.
“We have these things as a team. The challenge is to be the best version of ourselves,” he said.
“Maybe the next level is to keep the level, sometimes it’s like this. Don’t drop the level.”
Zidane said: “I don’t think Chelsea will sit back. They’re a complete team, they attack and defend well.”
- Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history. They faced in the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final (1-1 first game, 2-1 to Chelsea in replay) and the 1998 Uefa Super Cup final (1-0 to Chelsea).
- This will be the 163rd Uefa Champions League match between English and Spanish teams, the most of any two nations. English teams have won four of their last seven against Spanish opponents (D2 L1), twice as many as in their previous 20 against them (W2 D7 L11).
- Chelsea are set to play in their eighth Champions League semi-final, the most of any English club, while this is Real Madrid’s 14th semi-final – two more than any other side.
- Chelsea have only lost the first leg in one of their seven previous Champions League semi-finals (W2 D4), a 3-1 defeat to Monaco in 2003-04. The first legs of their last six semi-finals – all in which they were unbeaten – have seen just four goals scored (three for, one conceded).
- Real Madrid have won the first leg of nine of their last 10 Champions League knockout ties (L1), scoring at least two goals in eight of these games. This is their first semi-final since 2017-18, winning the first leg 2-1 that year away at Bayern Munich.
- Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel are two of only 24 managers to have managed 15 or more Champions League matches in the knockout stages – Zidane has the joint-best win ratio (alongside Luis Enrique) of these managers (67%, P27 W18), while Chelsea boss Tuchel has the seventh-best percentage (53%, P15 W8).
- Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has faced Real Madrid more often without losing in the Champions League than against any other opponent (W1 D3). In the competition’s history, the only other manager to face Los Blancos as many as four times without losing is Gerard Houllier (P4 W2 D2).
- Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech has been directly involved in six goals in seven Champions League starts in the knockout stage (four goals, two assists), and scored in his first two such appearances against Real Madrid, for Ajax in the 2018-19 last 16. The last player to score in their first three games against Real Madrid in the competition was Lucio (2002-07).
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has conceded just two goals in his first nine Champions League appearances – the record for fewest goals conceded in a goalkeeper’s first 10 matches is two, set by Keylor Navas between 2014 and 2016 for Real Madrid.