Chelsea handed major Real Madrid boost just minutes after Champions League draw

Chelsea will travel to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid before welcoming the La Liga table-toppers back to Stamford Bridge in a significant boost to their Champions League defence.

The Blues initially appeared set to play their quarter-final home leg with the record 13-time winners first, however, the tie has subsequently been reversed following a clash of fixtures with Manchester City’s last-eight opponents Atletico Madrid.

For logistical reasons, both Atletico and Real cannot play the first leg of their respective ties at home in the Spanish capital. Therefore amendments to the Champions League’s fixture list were made and the rule was decided in Atletico’s favour, meaning Thomas Tuchel’s side hold the perceived advantage of playing at Stamford Bridge second.

However, Chelsea appear set to do so in front of no fans. The Athletic revealed on Wednesday that the Blues face playing their remaining Champions League home match behind closed doors as a result of EU sanctions imposed on the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

The two European giants have only met once before, at the semi-final stage of last season’s competition. Tuchel’s side prevailed 3-1 on aggregate on that occasion before overcoming Premier League rivals City to be crowned European champions in Porto.

As will be the case this year, Chelsea travelled to Spain for the first leg, however last year saw them play at Real’s training ground due to ongoing renovation work at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Back then, Christian Pulisic opened the scoring in 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital, with Karim Benzema cancelling out the American’s early strike.

In the return leg at Stamford Bridge, the Blues then claimed a 2-0 triumph to seal a spot in the final with Timo Werner and Mason Mount on the scoresheet. Tuchel’s side will no doubt be buoyed by the fixture reversal as they look to replicate that success this season.

Should Chelsea progress to the semi-final stage, they will play the winner of other aforementioned tie – either City or Atletico.

Elsewhere, Liverpool were drawn against Portuguese side Benfica while Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich face Villarreal – the third Spanish side remaining in the competition.

The Champions League quarter-final first legs will take place on Tuesday 5 April and Wednesday 6 April, with the return meetings taking place the following week, on Tuesday 12 April and Wednesday 13 April.

This year’s final will be staged at the Stade de France in Paris after UEFA decided to remove Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium as the host venue due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.