Chelsea have been handed a huge blow ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg with Real Madrid, with captain Cesar Azpilicueta testing positive for Covid-19. The Spanish defender was left out of the Blues squad to take on Southampton in the Premier League.
The reason for his omission was not initially clear, until Blues boss Thomas Tuchel confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus. Whilst he will miss the clash with the Saints on the south coast, it also puts his availability for next week’s clash in Spain in huge doubt.
The Blues are set to travel to Spain on Tuesday as they aim to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the second season in succession. It remains to be seen whether he returns a negative test in time in order to be fit to travel.
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Chelsea already have a huge test ahead of them as they aim to progress. They will have to overturn a considerable deficit having lost 3-1 to the Spanish giants at Stamford Bridge in midweek.
Karim Benzema secured the matchball in west London with a hat-trick, whilst Kai Havertz was the only man to find the net for the Blues.
Azpilicueta is not the only major doubt ahead of the reigning European champions’ trip to Spain. Club record signing Romelu Lukaku was also left out of the squad at St Mary’s with an Achilles injury – it remains to be seen whether he will be available for the second-leg. Meanwhile, both Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi remain restricted to the sidelines with long-term injuries.