Real Madrid 2 (5) vs. (4) 3 Chelsea Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg Review
So close, so proud.
Chelsea travelled to Madrid to play Real Madrid in the 2nd leg of the Champions League quarter-final. Madrid had a 1-3 lead from the first leg after having had good 45 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. No one gave Chelsea a chance going into the game. The best fans hoped for was for the team to give it their all and leave Madrid with some pride. Ancelotti went with the same lineup as the first leg with the only difference being Nacho who came in to the defence. Tuchel made some changes as well with Mendy starting in goal and a back four of James, Silva, Rudiger, and Alonso. Loftus-Cheek, Kante, and Kovacic started in midfield with a front three of Mount, Werner and Havertz. The key players that impressed against Southampton kept their place.
It was clear from minute one that Chelsea were a team on a mission. There was intensity from the front and Real Madrid were basically constricted by Chelsea’s press. The first goal came in the 15th minute as RLC passed to Timo who flicked the ball on for Mount and he ran through and smashed the ball past Courtois. 0-1 for Chelsea and the game was on. The pressure continued for much of the half and Real Madrid did not have any chance of getting a hold on the game.
The 2nd half started in similar fashion and the 2nd goal for Chelsea came in the 51st minute as Rudiger rose highest to head past Courtois. 0-2 and Chelsea were now level on aggregate. It was lining up to be one of the greatest nights in Champions League football history. Alonso then volleyed home a shot past Courtois in the 63rd minute and everyone thought that Chelsea had done it. VAR intervened and they judged that Alonso had handled the ball. It was clear bias and in now way was Alonso at fault in that scenario. Chelsea went again though but not after Benzema came close when he headed the ball off the bar. Kovacic then sent Timo Werner through on goal in the 75th minute and he went to the byline before dribbling past two players and slotting past Courtois. Timo Werner had done it for Chelsea and the Champions were ahead on aggregate. It was a brilliant feeling.
The joy was short-lived though as Modric played a brilliant right footed pass into the box and Rodrygo ran on to slot past Mendy. Pulisic then came close twice before full time but it was level on aggregate as the game went to extra time. Benzema scored the all important goal in the 96th minute as Chelsea now had to search for another goal. Ziyech, Havertz, and Jorginho came close in the following minutes but luck was not on Chelsea’s side and Real Madrid went through to the semi-finals on aggregate. A heart-braking night for Chelsea fans but one of immense pride as well.
Chelsea Team Review
Mendy made some key saves but for much of the game he had nothing to do because the players ahead of him did so well. Neither of the goals were his fault and really the one fault of his was that mistake in the first leg. A good overall game.
Reece James got a very early yellow after Vinicius dribbled past him but after that James stepped up. It was a brilliant performance from him as he kept the Brazilian quiet for much of the game. Silva did well but just fell short in some key situations. Rudiger was brilliant and got a massive goal. He was unfortunate to slip when the ball came to Benzema for the header. Rudiger was furious at full-time just because he clearly felt like much of the team that Chelsea had done more than enough. Alonso redeemed himself with a brilliant performance last night. Scored a perfectly legitimate goal that should have counted and would have all but sent Chelsea through. An overall great performance.
RLC played the familiar wing-back/eight role from the Southampton game and after a nervy start he settled in. Key to the opening goal. Kante was not at his best but was better than previous games while Kovacic was just sublime throughout. The Croatian truly is Chelsea’s best central midfielder. Mason Mount stood up once again following the Southampton game. A crucial opening goal and just a constant fighting presence. Jorginho, and Saul came on later in the game. Jorginho had the games last chance as his shot went wide off the post. Brilliant throughout.
Timo Werner was exceptional. The German was back to his high intensity pressing best from last season but the most telling contribution was his goal. Calm in the box and looking like the Leipzig Werner. One can only hope that Timo kicks on now and has a stellar few weeks ahead. Kai Havertz was once again brilliant as well and brought his physical fight. Will be frustrated that he couldn’t convert his chances but he played well. Pulisic came on and missed big chances that could have won Chelsea the game. Ziyech also had a good chance to get the winner. Proud performances.
Finally, Thomas Tuchel. What a manager. The German ate the chocolate was pensive and came to Madrid with a game plan. The players delivered and Tuchel was 15 minutes away from one of the biggest comebacks ever. Even in extra time he brought out the clipboard and tried getting that crucial goal. It’s safe to say that as long as Tuchel is back properly with players he wants, something that hasn’t happened yet then Chelsea will be a one of the top clubs in Europe for many seasons to come. An elite manager.
It was a brilliant game of football. One of Chelsea’s best performances ever. To simply put the fans and the club in a position to take the game to extra time was an achievement in itself. We won the battle but could not win the war. Alonso’s goal should have stood and we should have been better in the 1st leg but at the end of the 2nd leg yesterday every Chelsea fan, player, staff member etc should have held their head up high. No time to dwell on it, we need to perform like this on Saturday and use this as fuel for the FA Cup. Next up Crystal Palace at Wembley, COME ON CHELSEA!!!