Thomas Tuchel must answer Eden Hazard heir question as Chelsea hit with risky Real Madrid gamble


Thomas Tuchel has been warned of Reece James' importance to Chelsea ahead of the Blues Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid. The Blues will welcome Carlo Ancelotti's side to Stamford Bridge on April 6 for the first-leg before travelling to the Santiago Bernabeu on April 12.

Real Madrid and Chelsea will be locking horns just as they did last season when the two sides met in the semi-final. Tuchel's men held Los Blancos to a 1-1 draw before running riot in west London and booking a seat on a plane to Porto in May.

 Jake Stokes and Anita Abayomi reacted to the Blues' draw with Real Madrid on the CarefreeChelsea Champions League reaction show, outlining where the tie won and lost.

Stokes began by noting Vinicius Junior's mouth-watering form this season which has seen the 21-year-old directly contribute towards 23 goals in just 26 La Liga appearances.

"Vinicius Junior will be one of Real Madrid's main threats, obviously alongside Benzema," he said. "His pace, skill - what he has in his locker will be such a threat to Chelsea. He's had such a good season that it would be weird for him not to carry that over."

Stokes then credited Tuchel's ability to see out games of the highest magnitude before looking into James's role in suppressing Vinicius, who has stolen Eden Hazard's limelight this term.

"But, of course, Tuchel and Chelsea in knockout games particularly are so good defensively in one-off games," he said. "Chelsea have got to hope that Reece James is back for that game because, ultimately, I think if James is back, he could manage Vinicius for us.

"If that isn't the case and we've got Azpilicueta - right-back or right wing-back - or whoever, it could be more of a problem. Chelsea can't be without him any longer. He'll be massive to have back."

Abayomi added by explaining how James, who has been in the wars lately, could impact the Tuchel's defensive structure if he were to miss out through injury.

"I'm thinking of Trevoh Chalobah in this situation," she said. "You can not make a mistake against Vinicius. You can not pull him down near the penalty area, in the penalty area - whatever you do, Trevoh, be gentle.

"We know that Vinicius Junior is very quick, so if it is Azpilicueta in that wing-back role, we will rely on Trevoh Chalobah or Christensen if he's back to dominate Vinicius Junior - if that's even possible!"

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