Real Madrid moved one step closer to the LaLiga title with a 3-1 victory at Osasuna despite Karim Benzema twice failing from the penalty spot on Wednesday.

Madrid needed a stunning comeback to win 3-2 at Sevilla after a slow start on Sunday, but were quick out the blocks at El Sadar as David Alaba struck after 12 minutes before Ante Budimir immediately equalised.

Marco Asensio restored Madrid's lead in the 45th minute and, after Benzema saw two penalties saved by Sergio Herrera in the second half, Lucas Vazquez sealed victory in stoppage-time.

Victory moved Madrid 17 points clear of Atletico Madrid, with distant chasers Sevilla and Barcelona also in action against Levante and Real Sociedad respectively on Thursday.

Rodrygo forced a smart Herrera stop with a long-range effort in the opening exchanges, but Madrid were soon ahead.

A quick free-kick from Asensio and Dani Ceballos found space for Benzema, before the striker squared for Alaba, who fortuitously bundled home on the rebound from a Herrera reflex save.

Osasuna responded a minute later when Chimy Avila whipped across from the right for Budimir to tap-in.

Asensio pounced on Ceballos' saved close-range effort to poke Madrid ahead again on the stroke of half-time, before Thibaut Courtois excellently denied a looping Budimir header after the interval.

Avila then handled when trying to stop Rodrygo to offer Madrid a penalty, which Herrera saved against Benzema.

Benzema went for the same bottom-left corner after Rodrygo was felled by Nacho Vidal, with Herrera again guessing the right way.

Vinicius Junior then rolled wide on the counter before teeing up Vazquez, who finished into the bottom-left corner to confirm the win.

What does it mean? Title procession continues for Madrid

Madrid's title charge has been characterised by their fighting spirit to come through adversity to secure victory, and their performance at El Sadar was no different.

Los Blancos weathered an early storm from the hosts to take the half-time lead and, although Benzema twice failed from 12 yards, battled to victory over Osasuna, who have not defeated Madrid in 14 top-flight meetings.

Now, Ancelotti's team will tick off another fixture as they edge closer towards lifting the LaLiga trophy.

 

Rampant Rodrygo spares Benzema blushes

Winger Rodrygo was the star of the show as his half-time introduction sparked a comeback against Sevilla, and he was on form again against Osasuna as he won two penalties and laid on a game-high four chances.

The Brazil international's creative excellence did not prove fruitful for Benzema, who became the first player to miss two penalties in a LaLiga game since Raul Tamudo against Betis in April 2006.

Budimir efforts in vain

Budimir has scored in each of his last five LaLiga games (five goals in total) as he became only the second Osasuna player to score in five successive top-flight games in the 21st century after Richard Morales in 2004. However, the striker's efforts ultimately proved in vain against the league leaders.

What's next?

Madrid visit Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash on Tuesday, before hosting Espanyol on Saturday – the day before Osasuna are away at Elche.

Xabi Alonso says Real Madrid's ability to grind out results when not at their best has been key to their success this season, as Los Blancos eye a 35th LaLiga title. 

Alonso, who now coaches Real Sociedad's B team, made 236 appearances during a five-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, helping Carlo Ancelotti's team lift the Champions League trophy in 2014.

With Ancelotti back at the helm, Madrid hold a 15-point lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, and the Italian looks set to celebrate his first Spanish title triumph after already winning league titles in Italy, England, France, and Germany.

After beating Sevilla 3-2 with a late Karim Benzema goal last time out, Los Blancos have won 17 points from losing positions this season, the most in LaLiga, and Alonso believes that fighting spirit has been crucial.

"I think the team have found that stability, knowing that maybe they can struggle during one game, but they will have a chance to win and that they can win any game," he told FedEx.

"So far, in difficult moments, they have won games, and they are feeling comfortable playing great football and comfortable playing not the best football.

"Sometimes that's important as well, not to get nervous when you are not playing your best, to deal with those difficult times. I think that Madrid, they have dealt very well with those moments and that's why they are now in a great position.

"[There are] still many points [to play for], but yes, they are favourites [to win the league]. I think that they are the most consistent team. That's what gives you the best chance to win LaLiga at the moment. 

"I think that Carlo is a wise man. He knows how to find and to put the pieces together. That's why he's been with so many clubs, and he's [done] so many great things. He's finding his team, and he's able to deal with them so well because he has those skills to deal with the players."

Madrid have won 23 of their 32 LaLiga games this season, their highest number of victories at this stage of a season since 2016-17, when they won the title after having an identical record at this stage.

Although 39-goal striker Karim Benzema has led the charge for LaLiga and Champions League trophies, Alonso heaped praise on Ancelotti's reliable engine-room trio.

The 40-year-old also highlighted the potential of Barcelona's young midfielders, but stressed that the Blaugrana are in a "different moment" to Madrid as Xavi rebuilds the Catalan giants.

"Year by year, the midfield of Madrid, they are getting older, but they are as good as always. I've seen that Casemiro, Luka [Modric] and Toni [Kroos], they are safe as houses for any manager," he added.

"I think that Carlo has found what he needs from them and for sure he will need to rotate them. [But] they are playing very, very good football, and they are showing composure. 

"As always [with] Barca players, they have different kind of midfielders, [at a] different stage of their careers. For example, Nico, Gavi with the support of [Sergio] Busquets, it's a great prospect, but they are in a different moment right now."

Alonso picked out Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane as the one man he would have loved to play alongside..

"For sure, I would have loved to play with Zidane because I remember when I started playing in Sociedad, one of my first memories was playing against one of my idols. That was him," he added.

"To play against him, it was hard, but it was so enjoyable, and he was so elegant, things looked so easy for him, and he was such a good player. I would have loved to play with him, but I played against him."

Carlo Ancelotti does not feel like a champion yet despite Barcelona's shock defeat to Cadiz putting Real Madrid on the brink of reclaiming LaLiga.

Madrid visit Osasuna on Wednesday with the chance to go 18 points clear at the summit.

They will win LaLiga as soon as Sunday should they beat Osasuna, Atletico Madrid fail to defeat Granada and Barca fail to win their next two games against Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano.

Even if Atletico and Barca continue to pick up results, Madrid have a healthy advantage to protect over the final weeks of the season and still have the opportunity to win the title at Atleti next month.

But Ancelotti's focus remains only on the task at hand, with Madrid also having to juggle a two-legged Champions League semi-final with Manchester City along with their LaLiga commitments.

Ancelotti told a pre-match media conference: "I have too much experience to have this feeling [of being a champion]. 

"We are very close, but it is not over. We have a great opportunity tomorrow. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to get closer.

"Our calculation is simple. Three points against Osasuna and then three against Espanyol. If we need more, three against Atletico.

"I don't need to be a mathematician, I like history better."

Karim Benzema will play against Osasuna, though Luka Modric is set to be rested.

Casemiro will miss the Osasuna game after withdrawing from the squad with what Ancelotti labelled a "small problem".

The Brazil midfielder is expected to return for the first leg against City next Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium.

Carlo Ancelotti says he feels "lucky" to coach Real Madrid, and claimed that former Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho can make history at Roma.

Ancelotti's Madrid side clinched a dramatic 3-2 win over Sevilla on Sunday to move 15 points clear at the top of LaLiga, and seem all but certain to be crowned champions with second-placed Barcelona having just eight games to play.

Madrid have also advanced from thrilling Champions League ties against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the second half of the campaign, and will face Manchester City for a place in European football's showpiece event.

Ancelotti left Everton to join Madrid for a second spell in charge, and is thrilled with how his return has unfolded so far.

"The magic of this club, of the team and of these players is coming out," Ancelotti said. "I can say I'm a lucky coach. 

"I'm coaching a team that I feel a lot and that gives me great satisfaction, [at] a very well organised club. It is I who have to thank Real Madrid for giving me the opportunity to return to coaching this team.

"Real Madrid have the possibilities for history, tradition and quality to compete until the end. Now we have a very tough challenge against City. It was very tough also against PSG and Chelsea.

"The new rule that the away goal no longer counts as double makes these challenges more balanced and exciting."

Ancelotti was also asked about the club's potential acquisition of Kylian Mbappe, with the striker widely tipped to swap Paris for Madrid at the end of his contract.

I will say that the future of this club, thanks to president [Florentino] Perez, is of the highest level," he added.

And it will also be in the next few years, regardless of the players who may come. Real Madrid made football history and will continue to do so for many more years."

Turning to Serie A, Ancelotti believes Mourinho is on the right track to succeed with Roma after difficult spells at Tottenham and Manchester United.

Ancelotti said: "I think Mourinho has given back enthusiasm to a team that needed it.

"[They have done] extraordinary work thanks to his qualities. I think Mourinho can be an important piece in the history of Roma."

Roma are in the hunt for Champions League qualification in Serie A, while they will face Leicester City for a place in the final of the Europa Conference League.

 

Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged Real Madrid are "close" to sealing the league title after a dramatic comeback win over Sevilla on Sunday.

Sevilla looked to be breathing life back into LaLiga's race for first place when they found themselves 2-0 up thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic and Erik Lamela.

However, referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez's decision not to issue a second yellow card and send off Eduardo Camavinga for a heavy challenge late in the first half would have significant ramifications.

Camavinga was withdrawn for Rodrygo at half-time and the Brazilian quickly made an impact, pulling one back with a smart finish early in the second half.

Nacho Fernandez levelled for a dominant Madrid eight minutes from time and then Karim Benzema sealed the win that surely puts them out of reach in stoppage time.

Even if Barca win their two games in hand, Madrid will be nine points clear and their run-in looks relatively kind, with only Atletico Madrid and Real Betis likely to cause them significant bother.

As such, head coach Ancelotti recognised Madrid are almost at the finish line.

He told LaLiga TV: "No, it's not over, but it's really close.

"Everyone is waiting for the defeat of Real Madrid, but we are still on fire."

Despite the drama of the contest, Ancelotti cut a composed figure at full-time – though he stressed that was more down to mental fatigue than being relaxed.

"It looks normal because I'm so tired! I suffered a lot," he said with a smile. "I need time to recover."

Madrid have made a habit of comebacks in recent months, particularly in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Sunday was the latest impressive example and, elaborating on what is leading to these turnarounds, Ancelotti added: "The history of this club, the quality of the players and their sense of belonging, they feel something special when wearing the shirt. It's nothing new for Real Madrid and I think this is the reason."

One moment of second-half controversy looked set to cost Madrid when Vinicius Junior controversially had an equaliser disallowed for handball as the ball struck the top of his arm.

While it ultimately mattered little in the grand scheme, Ancelotti was keen to reveal his bemusement at the decision.

"We thought the same," he replied when it was put to him that the decision was harsh.

"As a supporter, I didn't understand why the goal of Vinicius was disallowed, it was not handball.

"I know it's really difficult to judge this kind of situation, but I think it was quite clearly a goal."

Real Madrid fought back from 2-0 down to beat Sevilla 3-2 as Karim Benzema's stoppage-time winner took them a step closer to clinching the title.

Sevilla looked to be breathing life back in LaLiga's title race, but Carlo Ancelotti's side produced a brutal second-half performance to make a real statement.

Perhaps suffering something of a Champions League hangover, Madrid were sluggish and found themselves trailing to goals from Ivan Rakitic and Erik Lamela, both caused by defensive mishaps.

But the pattern of play was dramatically flipped on its head after the break, with Rodrygo pulling one back and fellow substitute Nacho Fernandez equalising, before king of comebacks Benzema sealed the turnaround.

Carlo Ancelotti does not care if Real Madrid's critics pin their achievements on the prodigious scoring feats of Karim Benzema.

Goals win titles, and Madrid are well on their way to landing another LaLiga crown, while they are through to the semi-finals in the Champions League too.

Benzema has 38 goals from as many games this season, plus 13 assists, with those strikes coming at one every 85 minutes.

Madrid's next highest scorer is Vinicius Junior who has managed 17 goals in 43 appearances, with Marco Asensio next on the list after scoring 10 times.

This has been a career-best season for Benzema to date in terms of those goal numbers, with the 34-year-old Frenchman thriving on the responsibility of taking over the captaincy from Sergio Ramos.

Ancelotti sees Benzema's outstanding input as a major factor, but far from the only reason Madrid could end the season basking in trophy glory.

"We have a very important objective, and we are focused on this," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Sevilla.

"I don't care if they say we played well or badly, I care that the team can compete until the end and fight to win titles.

"We are focused on that, which is reality. They can say that we are the top scorers because we have Benzema, and it's true, but that's only one of the truths.

"The reality is that we want to win, and we are fighting to win titles. The rest doesn't matter."

Ancelotti said Madrid have managed to recharge after the gruelling second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea, when a 3-2 defeat after extra-time saw Los Blancos sneak through 5-4 on aggregate.

They tackle third-placed Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, with Benzema having often struggled to make a telling impact in this particular fixture.

He has scored eight goals in 21 LaLiga games against Sevilla but only one in 10 such fixtures away from home. Only at Camp Nou, where he has played 13 matches and managed just one goal, has Benzema played more away games with so few goals scored in the competition.

Ancelotti will hope he improves that record as Madrid, holding a 12-point lead at the summit, attempt to close in on the title.

"We need to win and add points, because LaLiga is not yet won," Ancelotti said.

"Everyone is waiting for Real Madrid to suffer a puncture, and hopefully that doesn't come, because LaLiga is not over. Every game can be a trap."

Carlo Ancelotti likened Luka Modric to Paolo Maldini as he declared the veteran midfielder would end his career at Real Madrid – also insisting he has no problem with Toni Kroos.

Ahead of a trip to Sevilla on Sunday, Ancelotti spoke glowingly about both midfielders who have put Madrid in a strong position to strike for LaLiga and Champions League glory.

There was a flash point between Ancelotti and Kroos in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, when the former Germany international was substituted and was reported to have insulted the coach as he left the field.

Ancelotti stressed that was soon defused, meaning there seems no danger of Kroos and Modric not starting in tandem when league leaders Madrid tackle third-placed Sevilla.

With Madrid edging through to the European semi-finals after extra time, despite losing 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti's decision to bring on Eduardo Camavinga in Kroos' place proved to be justified.

The change had come with Madrid 2-0 behind and facing possible elimination. Modric played the full 120 minutes, and the 36-year-old remains as influential as ever at the heart of the team.

Addressing the Kroos kerfuffle, Ancelotti said on Saturday: "His gesture didn't bother me. He was angry with the coach but not with the person.

"As well as in sport, he is a person with a very high level. I don't need to talk to him or ask for explanations. It's all over after the game."

Kroos, 32, and Modric have been the beating heart of the Madrid midfield, and that is set to remain the case into next season.

Although Modric is now in the veteran stage of his career, Ancelotti sees that as a positive rather than a weakness.

"I think he's going to finish his career here, I don't know when but that's everyone's idea," Ancelotti said. "There is no problem for the club, neither for us nor for him to renew, that is quite clear.

"He takes great care of himself, in his career he has not had any major injuries and that helps him a lot."

Making the Maldini comparison, Ancelotti said: "I had a football legend, who won the last Champions League at the age of 40. If I have to compare him with anyone, it would be with him: for the quality, for the seriousness, for how he understands football. They are legends."

Ancelotti coached Maldini at Milan, having previously played in the same team as the defender who went on to make 902 appearances for the Rossoneri.

Maldini was in fact 38 when he helped Milan to the fifth European Cup/Champions League of his career, but he played on until the age of 40.

Madrid head into Sunday with a 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, with Barcelona and Sevilla their nearest challengers but both surely now playing for second place.

Ancelotti, appointed for a second spell at Madrid last June, has won six of his seven games as coach against Sevilla in all competitions (L1).

Sevilla, meanwhile, have failed to win any of their past six meetings with Real Madrid in LaLiga (D1 L5), their worst winless run since a 15-game stretch between May 1993 and April 2003 (D2 L13), which is the longest such barren sequence they have suffered against Los Blancos in the competition’s history.

Sevilla and Real Madrid were title rivals when they last met in LaLiga back in November.

Then, as is the case now, Madrid led the table, but Sevilla were just two points back in third having played the same number of games. Optimism was growing for a genuine title fight.

But the team the capital from behind to win 2-1 through a late Vinicius Junior goal and have since opened a significant gap to Sevilla.

Including the three earned at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid have collected 10 more points than Sevilla in the intervening period.

Now, as the sides prepare to face off again at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Carlo Ancelotti's men – fresh from reaching the Champions League semi-finals – look to be coasting towards a 35th championship.

Even victory for Sevilla would only close the deficit to nine points with six games to play – and such a result feels highly unlikely based on recent history.

One-sided recent rivalry

Perhaps discussion of a tussle at the top earlier in the season was premature given Madrid's dominance of this fixture in the past few seasons.

Defeat at the Bernabeu was Sevilla's fifth in six league matches against Madrid, with their other encounter in that run a draw.

Indeed, this is their worst winless run against Madrid since a sequence of 15 games between May 1993 and April 2003 – 13 of which were losses. That was Sevilla's longest such streak against Madrid in LaLiga history.

 

Away day success in Andalusia 

This miserable stretch for Sevilla has included consecutive home defeats to Madrid, who are now bidding to win three in a row away from home in this fixture for the first time since a run of four ended in November 1996.

Those past two Madrid victories have been by 1-0 scorelines, meaning they could become only the third team in LaLiga history to win three in a row at Sevilla without conceding after Barcelona in March 1961 (three matches) and Celta Vigo in November 2003 (four).

Madrid have enjoyed recent trips to Andalusia as a whole, winning on their past seven visits. This is their best ever such run in LaLiga.

Los Blancos have scored in 31 of their past 32 league matches in the region (W24 D2 L6) for 78 goals in total at a rate of 2.44 goals per game.

Can ex-flop Lop stop the rot?

The match in November was Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui's 100th in LaLiga, but it should have come as no surprise that it did not come to plan. His career rarely has when Lopetegui has become entwined with Madrid.

His Spain tenure was ended prematurely when he agreed to join Madrid as coach on the eve of the 2018 World Cup – a decision that panned out for nobody.

Lopetegui oversaw just six wins in 14 matches in all competitions before he was sacked after a 5-1 defeat to rivals Barcelona. His win rate of 42.9 per cent was the second-lowest among all Madrid coaches to oversee multiple games.

As evidenced by the result in November, things have scarcely improved for Lopetegui where Madrid are concerned since his dismissal.

He has overseen five of the six matches in Sevilla's winless run in this fixture, with the four defeats tied for his most against any team in LaLiga – along with Barca, of course.

On the other hand, opposite number Ancelotti has won six of his seven games against Sevilla as a coach, including two victories in finals, winning the UEFA Super Cup with Milan in 2007 and Madrid in 2014.

Benz at his best while Martial flounders

It was hoped the January signing of Anthony Martial would boost Sevilla's title hopes, yet his only goal in their colours so far came in the Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb.

There has been just a single assist in LaLiga, too, meaning Martial is still waiting for his 100th goal involvement in Europe's top five leagues two months on from his 99th – that tee-up for Rafa Mir against Elche.

 

This underwhelming form stands in stark contrast to that of compatriot Karim Benzema, who has 38 goals in 38 games in all competitions this season, with only Robert Lewandowski matching his 51 goal involvements among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Benzema has eight goals in 21 LaLiga games against Sevilla, although he has scored just once in 10 visits to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Only at Camp Nou (one goal in 13 games) has he played as many games while scoring so few goals.

Of all the seasons to improve that return, though, this is surely the one.

Manchester City or Atletico Madrid will have to overcome "the magic" of the Santiago Bernabeu if they are to defeat Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti credited the club's stadium and supporters for their role in a gripping quarter-final tie with holders Chelsea.

The 13-time European champions again had to rally in a second-leg comeback, albeit this time after holding a first-leg lead.

Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 at home with a Karim Benzema hat-trick after losing 1-0 away, but this time returned to Spain with a 3-1 advantage from Stamford Bridge – again courtesy of three goals from Benzema.

However, Ancelotti's men were heading out when Chelsea took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, before Rodrygo's equaliser from an outstanding Luka Modric assist took the game to extra time.

Unsurprisingly, Benzema had the final say, netting his fifth Champions League goal against Chelsea and 13th against English opposition (second only to Lionel Messi's 27).

After guiding Madrid to a 31st European Cup or Champions League semi-final – 11 more than any other side – Ancelotti praised first his players and then the fans.

"We've got through because we showed the energy, particularly towards the end of the game to keep ourselves in it," he said. "All of the players stood up and were counted and it was a tough night.

"We didn't deserve to be 2-0 down. We struggled on set pieces because we were missing our best player in that department, who is [Eder] Militao, and what's more, their first goal came from a rebound.

"We didn't show the desire to score goals and, after going 2-0 down, the team suffered mentally.

"I can't explain any of the rest of it. The magic of this stadium helps the players to never give in.

"At no stage did I think that it was over, particularly because we were playing here at the Bernabeu. It's difficult to put it into words, but this magic spurs you on.

"It helped to give the whole team that energy boost to get through to the semi-finals."

On the pitch, defender Nacho certainly felt that, with Madrid relying on the crowd despite the experience of their oldest ever Champions League starting XI.

"It was yet another incredible night at the Bernabeu," the Spain international said. "It looked like it was going to be a real uphill struggle for us, but the team produced an amazing reaction to progress through to the semi-finals.

"It's similar to the PSG game. It gives you goosebumps every time you witness a night like that at the Bernabeu.

"What's important for us is that we're in the next round. We've got to be a lot better from the start. We're playing for Real Madrid and we're taught from a young age that you never give up.

"A lot of people were waiting to see us fail against PSG. When the result was against us today, a lot of people doubted us. But this club's DNA never gives up. We showed that again. We have completed our objective".

Luka Modric described Real Madrid's 3-2 loss to Chelsea on Tuesday that sent them through the Champions League semi-finals as a "defeat that is very sweet."

An uncharacteristically poor performance that led to a 3-1 loss in the first leg at Stamford Bridge meant Chelsea had the proverbial mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Yet the Blues took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, putting them up 4-3 on aggregate, before Eduardo Camavinga's substitution for Toni Kroos and Modric's sublime assist for Rodrygo changed the complexion of the game and tie. Karim Benzema's goal in extra time eventually separated the two sides.

The Croatia international said afterwards that, given his familiarity with Chelsea, he knew the return leg was not going to be routine.

"We knew after the first leg that we will have a tough game, because for me, they [Chelsea] are the most difficult team to play against," Modric told BT Sport. "I watch them a lot because of my friend Mateo [Kovacic] and they are a very tough, physical team, very compact and we knew it was going to be tough.

"In the end, we showed great character, great desire, great togetherness and we managed to turn it around, which is amazing. A defeat that is very sweet."

Tuesday's game resembled the first leg in last year's Champions League semi-final between the two, with Chelsea pressing intensely and piercing through in transition.

Thomas Tuchel's side dictated a very high tempo early, but Madrid were able to feel their way through the game, making sufficient adjustments and gaining momentum late.

"Unbelievable to describe this game. We were dead until the goal we scored," Modric said. "Chelsea scored three good goals, maybe the first goal was a bit lucky with the deflection, but I cannot say that we played a bad game."

According to Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, his side levelling on aggregate took momentum away from Chelsea, while also saving particular praise for the 36-year-old Ballon d'Or winner.

"The changes were important, in retrospect I must say that with the goal of 3-1, they took a good blow on a psychological level," he said.

"Modric was amazing with that assist, from there we build the second goal and then we managed."

The Champions League quarter-final second legs are here, and the competition's two most recent winners must overcome first-leg deficits to reach the final four on Tuesday.

Defending champions Chelsea were downed by a stunning Karim Benzema hat-trick at home to Real Madrid, who are bidding to be crowned European champions for a 14th time.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, suffered a shock reverse at Unai Emery's Villarreal, who will surely require a remarkable defensive performance to keep the free-scoring Bundesliga leaders at bay in Bavaria.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Tuesday's crucial European ties. 

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema brilliance puts hosts in driving seat

Benzema's Stamford Bridge hat-trick has put Los Blancos on the brink of a semi-final spot, and he will be looking to continue his incredible European campaign when Chelsea try to overcome a 3-1 deficit in Spain.

After hitting consecutive European trebles, Benzema's tally of 11 goals is a new record for the most strikes by a French player in a single edition of the competition, and matches his record across the last two editions combined (he scored six goals in 2020-21 and five in 2019-20).

The 34-year-old's understanding with Vinicius Junior caused Chelsea all sorts of problems in London, and the duo have now assisted each other a combined five times in the Champions League this term (Vinicius providing four assists, Benzema one), the most of any two team-mates in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti will qualify for the semi-finals for a record eighth time if Madrid can maintain their advantage against his former employers, equalling Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are making their first trip to the Santiago Bernabeu in European competition, and must become the first English side to win a Champions League game there by more than one goal to have any chance of progressing.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy's costly mistake at Stamford Bridge has left the Blues on the brink of an exit, with his dire pass to Benzema representing his first error leading directly to a goal in 20 appearances in the competition.

Chelsea may be encouraged by the fact they have not lost both legs of a Champions League tie since going down to Bayern Munich in 2019-20's last 16, and have won three and drawn two of their last six meetings with Los Blancos.

However, with Madrid progressing from nine of their previous 10 ties after winning an away first leg (the exception being a 5-3 aggregate loss to Ajax in 2019), Chelsea look unlikely to revive their title defence.

 

Bayern Munich v Villarreal: Emery eyes landmark success against Bavarian giants

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich are looking to avoid consecutive last-eight eliminations when they host Villarreal, with Arnaut Danjuma giving Unai Emery's men a precious 1-0 first-leg lead.

Danjuma has six Champions League goals this term, with only Robert Lewandowski (12), Benzema (11), and Mohamed Salah (eight) managing more, and could prove the visitors' best outlet on the counter-attack.

Indeed, Villarreal will certainly require a resolute defensive performance in Munich, having conceded 22 shots in their surprising home triumph.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side were uncharacteristically wasteful in Spain, and their four shots on target last Wednesday marked the lowest such tally managed by a team to attempt over 20 shots in the competition this season.

 

Bayern unquestionably have what it takes to turn the contest around, however, and haven't gone consecutive Champions League games without scoring since a 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in 2013-14's semi-final tie.

Lewandowski will carry the burden of rescuing the Bavarian giants, having already scored two European hat-tricks in Munich this season (against Benfica and RB Salzburg). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid in 2015-16) has ever managed three trebles in one Champions League campaign.

If the Yellow Submarine can pull off a remarkable success at the Allianz Arena, Emery will progress beyond the competition's quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

But the omens do not make for great reading for the Spaniard. The only previous time a side of his won an opening leg in the competition's knockout stages (Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2017), they became the first team to be eliminated after winning a first leg by four goals, falling to an incredible 6-1 away loss. 

Real Madrid should not be ashamed to be reliant upon talisman Karim Benzema, according to Los Blancos head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

France international Benzema has helped Madrid to the LaLiga summit, 12 points clear of Barcelona, who have played a game less.

The former Lyon striker also propelled the LaLiga giants into the ascendancy with his hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, he became the first player to score a treble against the Blues in European competition as he joined Cristiano Ronaldo, Luiz Adriano and Lionel Messi as the fourth player to manage consecutive hat-tricks in the Champions League following his heroics in the last 16 against Paris Saint-Germain.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (46) has found the net more times in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions than Benzema, who has 37 goals to his name in as many appearances.

Ancelotti heaped praise on his star forward as he fielded questions over whether potential transfer target Erling Haaland would be put off Madrid by Benzema's exploits.

"What a question... I'm sorry, I can't answer," he said. 

"But I can say that Benzema is a modern centre-forward, in the past the number nine would get into the area and finish off whatever was going on there.

"Karim is what modern football demands in a striker, shooting, playing, defensive work, not giving away balls... It's the perfect representation of what a centre forward should be today".

Benzema and Vinicius Junior have formed a formidable partnership this campaign, with the duo combining for a competition-leading five goals in the Champions League.

Ancelotti referenced the likes of Los Blancos greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as he pointed towards his new pairing as the stars of the show this season.

"The season says that there are two strikers who have stood out a lot, Vinicius and Benzema," he added.

"In the past we had Cristiano, Bale... To say that we are dependent on Benzema is the truth, there is no need to hide it. I am very happy to be dependent on Benzema".

Benzema has netted 11 times in the Champions League this campaign, the most by a Frenchman in Europe's premier club competition and as many as he had scored in the previous two editions combined.

He will look to add to that tally at home to Chelsea on Tuesday as Ancelotti aims to qualify for an eighth Champions League semi-final – the joint-most of any coach in history, along with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti prefers the day-to-day running of club management amid questions about whether he would take up an international role.

Ancelotti has guided Madrid to the summit of LaLiga, 12 points clear of a resurgent Barcelona, who do have a game in hand.

Madrid are also in contention to go all the way in the Champions League. Los Blancos are 3-1 up in their quarter-final against reigning European champions Chelsea heading into Tuesday's second leg.

While Ancelotti has Madrid on course for success this season, speculation swirls as to whether president Florentino Perez will stick with the 62-year-old for next season.

The failure of Italy to qualify for two straight World Cups has also brought Roberto Mancini's position into question, but Ancelotti – a reported option to take over as Azzurri coach in 2018 – prefers club football.

"I have thought about it, to train a national team," he told a news conference when asked about the Italy job. 

"To be honest I must say that I like the day-to-day of club football. The matches give you emotion and happiness.

"But there is of course the worry and the day-to-day stress – when I lose the desire for the daily work, I will stop."

The former Bayern Munich and Chelsea boss opted to leave Everton for Madrid at the start of this season, after guiding the Toffees to an underwhelming 10th in his only full Premier League campaign with them following a 12th-placed finish in 2019-20.

Everton were looking good to mount a challenge for Champions League qualification as late as March, yet only managed three wins from their final 12 top-flight games.

The Merseyside club are now fighting relegation, but Ancelotti said Madrid, who he coached previously between 2013 and 2015, were the only suitors capable of turning his head.

"With Everton, I was having a good time," he said. "Then Madrid called me and I can understand why [Everton] got angry, but it was difficult to say 'no'.

"It was the only team I couldn't say no to. To the rest, I could say no."

Asked whether he would be in charge in 2022-23, Ancelotti replied: "I hope so, but I'm not thinking about that.

"I'm not thinking about the contract. If the club is happy, I'm still happy. If not, I'll appreciate it, period. I trust at the end of the season, it will be good."

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid can win the Champions League but is braced for a tough quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.

Madrid hold a 3-1 advantage after defeating Chelsea for the first time in Europe and will be expected to finish off the job at in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Thomas Tuchel has conceded the holders face an almost "impossible" task in the Spanish capital, as they have to win by their biggest margin away from home in the competition just to take the tie into extra time.

No English side has ever won by more than a single goal at Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League, making Ancelotti's team the strong favourites to make the semi-finals.

That would set up a meeting with either Manchester City and Atletico Madrid, but Ancelotti is not getting ahead of himself even if he thinks his team have the credentials to lift the famous trophy.

Asked at a pre-match news conference what Madrid were missing to be labelled as favourites, he said: "There is nothing missing, but nobody can say that they are going to win because the Champions League is very difficult.

"Not everyone can compete, you need a lot of quality, experience, personality. That's why I said that this team can compete."

Madrid are looking to become the first team to win both legs against Chelsea in a Champions League tie since Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season.

But Ancelotti expects the Blues to come out fighting after Tuchel was critical of their display at Stamford Bridge last week.

"Everyone knows that it will be a difficult match, like all the quarter-finals in the Champions League," he continued. "Whatever happens in the first leg, you have to fight and compete.

"You have to be switched on for 90 minutes. We expect Chelsea are going to come out strong. I am lucky that my squad knows this type of match and what can happen. We won't go out relaxed.

"My squad is happy to play because it's a great opportunity to reach a semi-final."

Pressed on Tuchel stating it is an almost impossible task for his side to progress, Ancelotti said: "I don't know. They will come and fight despite it being difficult. They are a big team with a spirit that never gives up."

If Madrid do progress to the last four, Ancelotti will have made the Champions League semi-finals for an eighth time – the joint-most by a coach in the competition, along with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Guardiola will take his tally to nine if City get knock Atleti out.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.