• Tom Abadie


As expected, the first tie of this semi-final of the Champions league was a tense and cagy game. While Chelsea created more scoring opportunities and opened the scoring, the game finished 1-1 after Benzema brilliantly equalised after half an hour. Chelsea leaves Spain with the away goal advantage which Tuchel will be happy about, but they certainly could have gone back to London with more than that.

Tactical mastermind

Tuchel came in with the same set up as the game last weekend against West Ham. His three at the back system seems to be working very well as of late and there was no reason to take out the performing forwards that are Mount and Pullisic. On the other side, Zidane decided to go with three at the back as well, going for a man marking stance. The absences of Ramos and Mendy meant he had to be creative again, with Marcelo starting the game as captain on the left flank. The opening half hour was all Chelsea, creating a dangerous opportunity but Werner could not finish off a perfect set up from Pullisic, as he was blocked by Courtois. The American however was able to slot away his chance a few minutes later. A beautiful ball from Rudiger over the top, similar to Kroos’ ball for Vinicius in the last round, set up Pullisic one on one with Courtois. Taking his time, analysing his situation, he then rounded the keeper and smashed it in the centre of the goal between Varane and Militao. 1-0.

As per usual recently in Madrid, torrential rain started on the pitch. Monsoon season was around. And like in the Classico, the Merengues rose to the occasion. A cleverly worked corner, with Marcelo crossing it into the second post, Casemiro and Militao heading it back into the dangerous area. What followed was a thing of beauty; Karim Benzema, while outmuscling his surrounding defenders, cushions the ball with his head. He then volleys it with immense power into the roof of the goal, scoring his 71st goal in the Champions League, his 28th all competitions this season. 1-1.

Lock the shop

The first half was nothing spectacular, only a few chances on both sides, including a great hit from Benzema outside the box, skimming the post. After the break however, the level and the intensity dropped a bit more. Both sides dominating possession without really doing much with it. Real were locked in their own half for most of the half, and when Chelsea took over the ball, they passed it horizontally around Madrid’s box. A few changes brought a little more energy, with Havertz and Ziyech being impressive when coming on. However, the sparks had somewhat left the little flame that was burning in the first half.

Chelsea opportunities mostly came in the first half and could have been better exploited, taking a 2-0 lead. However, they go back to the UK with a simple away goal advantage for now. Zidane can be happy with the draw, his team not creating many opportunities. He’ll be hoping to get Ramos onto the pitch next week and why not a starting spot for Hazard, who made a quick appearance in the second half. A return to Stamford Bridge for the Belgian could inspire his best years in London. This tie is certainly not over yet and could open up a little more next week. Tuchel can be happy with his men’s performance, but he’ll be keen to get them rallied up for next week in order to go through. On the other side, Benzema was pretty lonely, but he still managed to created opportunities. The Merengues limited damage with this draw and will have to do a lot better next week to hope to play the final in Istanbul later next month.