A step in the right direction which could have been a leap!
Chelsea took on Real Madrid at Real Madrid’s academy stadium on Tuesday night for the Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg. There was a massive storm in Madrid which seemed fitting of the tie. Tuchel stuck with the exact same lineup that played against West Ham which was a bit of a surprise for some fans. Mendy started in goal with Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger making up the back four. Jorginho, and Kante started in midfield with Azpilicueta, and Chilwell as the wing backs. Mount, Pulisic, and Werner started up front. Zidane decided to match Chelsea in formation and chose to field a back three of Militao, Varane, and Nacho. Carvajal and Marcelo started as the wing backs with a trio of Casemiro, Modric, and Kroos. Vinicius and Benzema started up front.
Chelsea started the game with blistering pace. Madrid looked out of place in their back formation and the front three along with Kante kept finding unlimited space in behind Madrid’s midfield. Chelsea’s first chance came early when a deflected Mount shot found Pulisic who headed the ball into Werner who’s shot from 6 yards was saved by Courtois feet. Chelsea then scored in the 14th minute as Rudiger’s long ball found Pulisic who took it down and dribbled past Courtois to finish and give Chelsea the lead. It was a brilliant goal. Chelsea then had 2-3 good chances as Pulisic, and Kante did well to reach the Madrid box but failed to find the pass into Werner who perhaps was too narrow with his run. As it began to pour the game became sloppy and Benzema managed to hit the post. Benzema then managed the equaliser in the 29th minute after Marcelo’s cross found Carvajal who’s header was bobbed onto Benzema’s head who then volleyed it past Mendy from close range. There was no real chance after that for either team as Madrid grew back into the game but posed no real threat. Half time came with Chelsea probably annoyed by the chances missed in the 1st half.
The 2nd half was basically a stalemate between two teams which were much more cagey. Real Madrid made changes and changed their formation to a back four later on. The main difference was that they decided to stay narrow and sit back which didn’t allow Chelsea the space that was enjoyed by the front three in the 1st half. Werner came close once while Ziyech off the bench tested Courtois with a free kick but it was a comfortable save. The game ended with Chelsea happy with the away goal but Madrid very much in the tie thanks to the individual brilliance of Benzema.
Chelsea Team Review
No clean sheet for Mendy in this game. There wasn’t much for Mendy to do during the whole game. There was really only two shots one that hit the post and one that Benezema scored. Other than that it was a wet but quite afternoon for our goalkeeper.
Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger were solid as a back 3 with Rudiger particularly standing out. The only lapse came in the goal that was conceded as there were 3 headers in the box that our players did not win. Azpilicueta did well defensively and handled Vinicius well while Chilwell did the same on left but also provided a threat up front especially in the opening 25 minutes. Chilwell’s final pass was lacking though. Reece James came on in the 2nd half for Chelsea and handled Hazard well who also came on for a cameo 30 minutes. No clean sheet but a solid display.
Jorginho looked good but clearly tired as the game went on. There was some sloppy play from the Italian of course aided by the heavy rain. Kante was imperious in the midfield and dominated Madrid’s midfield 3. During the 1st 30 minutes he showed his immense dribbling skills as well but again once he reached the Madrid box it looked like he didn’t know what to do. Final pass was lacking from the Frenchman. Mount didn’t have any clear chances on goal but contributed by pressing and providing a basis to launch attacks.
Pulisic was fire especially during the first 25 minutes. The goal was brilliantly taken and he should have had an assist in the opening minutes as well. The American continues to be a big game player for Chelsea and he delivered once again as he hits form at the right time. Timo Werner received plenty of criticism for his early miss that was saved from point blank range by Courtois. Of course Timo worked hard and created some chances while pulling defenders wide with his pace etc. Timo is a key player thanks to his pace but due to the fact he is a striker he will always be judged by how many goals he scores especially by the younger fans. Timo Werner does need to improve his finishing though but I don’t think it will happen this season. More like something for next season. Ziyech and Havertz came on later in the game and Ziyech once again made an impact from the bench.
Tuchel’s plan worked to a T in the opening 25 minutes. Tuchel will of course be annoyed that Chelsea leave Madrid with a draw rather than a win by 2 or 3 goals. The attack is again an area where Tuchel needs to figure out things. The players are delivering but are also missing some good chances. An away goal is good though and something to bring back to London.
It was good to go into a semi-final and not feel like a team that was depending on luck to get through. We dominated Madrid for large parts of the game and created chances as well. Chelsea now have to focus on Fulham and then we take on Madrid at Stamford Bridge. COME ON CHELSEA!!!