Chelsea Snatch A Crucial Away Goal Against Real Madrid In The Champions League Semi-Final

Champions league

Thomas Tuchel arrived barely three months ago when Chelsea was languishing in ninth place, and the team looked out of place. American forward Christian Pulisic drew the first blood against Champions League record-holders before Karim Benzema replied with a stunning goal for the equalizer.

It was a night Chelsea players will look back at and feel massively proud. Three months after the arrival of the former PSG manager, the London-based side is few points of the top four teams and has one leg in the Champions League final.

But more importantly, it’s the kind of incredible performance they put up in Madrid that should get teams worried. 

Real Madrid Didn’t Show Up.

One might argue that Chelsea put up an excellent show on a night Zinedine Zidane gambled with his tactics and let the visitors run away with the chance. No doubt about that- Chelsea troubled the Spanish giants for a better part of the game and were unlucky not to have snatched a win. It could also be true that Real Madrid didn’t just show up and let Tuchel command the proceedings according to the script. 

In one instance during the second half, Luka Modric glanced over his shoulders, scanning for any nearby support which wasn’t coming forth. It was a moment that left the rattled Croatian midfield dynamo looking subdued and helpless. He may have been overwhelmed or just had a bad day in the office. However, not many teams do that to one of the most consistent and refined midfielders in the last decade of European football. But a tactically brilliant Chelsea did, overpowering Real Madrid on all fronts and making them look pretty average at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Zidane gambled with his formation by trying to match Chelsea’s system of play. It was a decision that provided the Blues with more spaces on the flanks, with their runs on the flanks proving too much for Zidane’s side to handle.  

Chelsea needs a proper striker.

Tuchel has tried several options up front, but none seems to be perfectly holding up. Kai Havertz has been on different occasions deployed as a false number nine. Mason Mount has numerous times come on as a forward in a strikerless formation, while Giroud has been slotted in as a traditional number nine. 

The massive talent at Stamford Bridge is unquestionable. However, they have also struggled to get goals. They were relatively blunt against Real Madrid, with a handful of open chances slipping through their hands as they watched. 

Put in another way, they were awful in the final third and should have at least put the game beyond Real Madrid’s reach in the first half. They dominated the game most of the time, but lack of incisiveness meant they head into the second leg with only an away goal advantage. 

N’golo Kante was outstanding.

The French midfielder literally ran the show on Tuesday with Madrid’s much-heralded trio of Modric, Kroos, and Casemio cleverly overrun by a well-organized Chelsea midfield. Kante was able to read the game faster than any midfielder- a trait that puts him shoulders above his peers. 

He was always in the right place, making timely interceptions and initiating dangerous attacks. He isn’t a great dribbler, yet still, he completed more dribbles than the whole Real Madrid team combined. 

The Stamford Bridge can hope for more promising nights ahead.

The draw means Tuchel has only lost two out of the 21 games he’s been in charge of since his arrival. It’s an incredible record that he would love to maintain. But more importantly, it’s a record that makes Chelsea fans feel like it’s just the start of something special at Stamford Bridge. 

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