Chelsea once again delivers a solid performance under Thomas Tuchel in a big game as they hold Real Madrid for 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. The South London club managed to get the crucial away goal as Real Madrid will have to score at Stamford Bridge to have a chance of reaching the final.
Tuchel’s men started the game with great intensity, forcing Real Madrid players to make mistakes in the midfield area and exploited the space behind wing-backs. Timo Werner should have scored the first goal, but Thibaut Courtois made a tremendous save to deny him. After dominating the game Chelsea made the pressure count when Christian Pulisic opened the scoring by making a darting run behind Madrid’s defense. Pulisic managed to dribble past Courtois and finish the move with aplomb.
Los Blancos were looking like a tired side until a moment of magic created by Karim Benzema brought them back into the game. The French striker managed to score an acrobatic goal in the box after Madrid executed a training ground move on a set-piece.
Both sides were more cautious in the second half. Los Blancos were all over the place in the first half, but they maintained a compact defensive shape in the second half, taking the sting out of Chelsea’s game.
Blues were comfortable sitting back and waiting for the opportunity to counter. N’Golo Kante was motoring through Madrid’s midfield through clever dribbling and runs. The Frenchman single-handedly dominated the midfield of Real Madrid for straight 90 mins. Chelsea also exposed the ageing Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as they were not able to keep up with Chelsea’s athletic midfield.
Zidane and company go into the second leg next week with confidence as they could have been in a worse situation. Sergio Ramos is expected to start next week, which will boost the confidence of the squad and the fans. Meanwhile, Chelsea themselves must feel that they have a good chance to qualify as the situation they have a solid defensive record at home under Tuchel. The initiative will be on Real Madrid to dominate the game in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. Chelsea will book a place in the final if they keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge next week.