Champions League preview: Keeping Gaitan and Cardozo quiet key to Chelsea progress

ZonalMarking.net's Michael Cox uses the StatsZone app – from FFT & Opta, available now – to preview Wednesday night's Champions League action...

Chelsea v Benfica, Wed 19:45Chelsea’s performance in Lisbon last week was the textbook European away performance – they defended deep in their own penalty area, then broke in the second half to poach a crucial away goal. Defender David Luiz, visiting his former club, was particularly impressive.

But the tie is not yet won, and despite failing to score and ultimately being beaten at home, Benfica offered a significant attacking threat. The combination to watch out for at Stamford Bridge is obvious – crosses from Nicolas Gaitan, who created no fewer than seven chances at the Estadio da Luz, and finishes from Oscar Cardozo, who hit the target with half of his eight.

Chelsea’s priority must be defence – after all, a clean sheet gets them through – but they may want to defend higher up the pitch in the return leg, to prevent Cardozo getting into the box so often.

Real Madrid v APOEL Nicosia, Wed 19:45Few gave APOEL Nicosia much chance in their two-legged tie against Real Madrid, but the dominance of Jose Mourinho’s side in last week’s first leg was still quite astonishing.

The Spanish league leaders attempted 28 shots over the course of 90 minutes, whereas APOEL couldn’t muster a single attempt. Cristiano Ronaldo alone tried his luck with ten shots. Worryingly for the Cypriot champions, that was their home leg.

It’s difficult to see how APOEL have any chance of recovery – they can be backed at 40/1 to win at the Santiago Bernabeu, and 110/1 to qualify for the semi-finals.

A more interesting market would regard whether or not Ivan Jovanovic’s side will have a shot on target – the odds would probably be about eve...

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