'Watch out': Benitez stresses Real Madrid tactic and player that Chelsea may have to contain

Rafa Benitez suggested that Chelsea must try and limit the runs of Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior in behind their backline, writing for the Times.

Spain is the destination for Thomas Tuchel’s team this evening, where they take on Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.

Despite the two clubs having never previously played each other in this competition, there are very few secrets about how strong both sets of squads are.

Photo by Visionhaus

Zinedine Zidane can still call-upon plenty of the old guard that won him three consecutive European titles, whilst Tuchel’s group is brimming with international talents.

However, it is one of Madrid’s newest celebrities that could take centre-stage later today.

Vinicius was the thorn in Liverpool’s side during their 3-1 quarter final first leg win earlier this month.

Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

The 20-year-old scored twice and was constantly asking questions of the Reds defence.

Benitez acknowledged one aspect of Madrid’s attack that worked against Liverpool and one Chelsea would have to silence, which included cancelling out Vinicius.  

The former Blues manager said: “Putting pressure on the Real midfielders so they cannot link with the strikers is one area.

“In the first game, it was also very clear that Real were playing the ball in behind the Liverpool defenders for the pace of Vinicius Junior.

“That is something Chelsea must watch out for.”

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Of course, Vinicius is not the only Madrista Chelsea have to try keep under wraps.

Karim Benzema continues to grab the goals, scoring 27 times in 39 appearances this season.

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos still form one of football’s finest midfielder partnerships, backed up by the crafty Casemiro.

Eden Hazard needs no introduction to Blues fans, nor does Thibaut Courtois.

Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

They may not be glistening with Galactico’s anymore, but Madrid can still pack a punch.

Chelsea just need to land a few blows of their own if they are to come out of this contest standing.  

Keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news and opinion by following The Chelsea Chronicle’s Twitter account here.

Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.