Chelsea vs Real Madrid: How likely are Chelsea to produce a Champions League comeback?

Chelsea are on the brink of Champions League elimination, following Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat at the Bernabéu against Real Madrid.

The classic cliché is that 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline, so is that true?

To date, 857 two-legged ties in the history of senior men’s UEFA club competitions have ended 2-0 to the home side in the first leg.

This is across all matches from the Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League, European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup, Intertoto Cup, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and Super Cup.

Of those 857, a surprisingly high 134 have produced a comeback, with the club losing 2-0 after the first leg overturning that deficit to advance.

This would give Chelsea a respectable 15.64% chance of reaching this season’s semi-finals.

In the modern-day Champions League knockout stages, the first leg has ended 2-0 16 times, with the beaten side after the first leg advancing on four occasions.

These are Barcelona beating A.C. Milan (2013), David Moyes’ Manchester United ousting Olympiacos (2014), Real Madrid overcoming Wolfsburg (2016) and Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick for Juventus against Atlético (2019).

Chelsea themselves overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit in the Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals in 1971 against Club Brugge, winning 4-0 at Stamford Bridge after extra time.

This was crucial because Dave Sexton’s side would go onto win the whole competition, beating Real Madrid in the final.

As for los Blancos, only twice before have they won a first leg 2-0 in Madrid but then gone out.

These came against Crvena zvezda in the 1975 Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals, and at the hands of Hamburg in the European Cup semis five years later.

Given Chelsea’s current predicament, a comeback seems implausible, but history suggests it is far from impossible.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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