The UEFA Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Real Madrid is well prepared after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Spain.
Christian Pulisic rewarded the visitors for a good start to the game with a cool finish after just 15 minutes. Despite a failure throughout the first half, Karim Benzema managed a brilliant equalizer to leave both teams at the same level going into the second leg, but the Blues holding an away goal advantage.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Benzema again the difference
While Real Madrid put on a totally underwhelming performance for much of the game, it was one man to get them out of trouble again and it was striker Benzema.
The Frenchman showed brilliant instincts to hang on to Eder Militao’s knockdown to control and then crush past Edouard Mendy into Chelsea’s goal just before the half hour mark. His strike was striking and he moved up to 4th in the all-time all-time scorers list in UEFA Champions League history, joining former Blancos striker Raul on 71 strikes in the competition.
Taking into account any possible injuries, Benzema will surely be the key for Zinedine Zidane’s men if they aspire to advance to the final in Istanbul.
Rudiger gets up to be counted
At the start of this season, it emerged that Germany international Antonio Rudiger had no future at Chelsea. After all, the former AS Roma player has only started three of the season’s opening 24 games in all competitions.
However, he experienced a remarkable turnaround under the guidance of compatriot Thomas Tuchel and put in another impressive performance in Madrid keeping the hosts at bay on numerous occasions. His defensive numbers weren’t particularly impressive with just one tackle and one assist throughout the game, but it was his organization of the five-way system behind Chelsea that was the defining feature of the defender’s game.
Rudiger also contributed in an offensive sense by lifting the ball into the Pulisic in a hurry which then gave the advantage to the Blues in Madrid.
Now one of Tuchel’s key players, Rudiger will surely hope to continue this rich vein of form as Chelsea look to the final and even the Premier League top four.
While Chelsea will be frustrated that they didn’t run out of winners tonight, especially given their dominance early in the game, it could be argued that this is still a great result for the Blues as they look to the second. . leg.
Pulisic’s goal gave the Londoners what could be a vital away goal, meaning Zinedine Zidane’s men just need to score at Stamford Bridge if they are to progress. Considering Chelsea have only conceded two home goals in the Champions League this season, it certainly won’t be an easy task for the Spanish giants.
So while the Blues could have left Spain with an even better result, a draw is certainly more than enough for the Londoners to be seen as favorites in the draw as it is. Chelsea can be backed at a cost of 1/1 with William Hill to advance to the final after both sets.
Real Madrid: Courteous (7); Marcelo (6) (Odriozola (N / A), 77 ‘), Nacho (6), Militao (7), Varane (7), Carvajal (6) (Asensio (N / A), 77’); Kroos (6), Casemiro (6), Modric (6); Vinicius Jr. (6) (Danger (6), 66 ′), Benzema (7) (Rodrygo (N / A), (90 + 2 ′)).
Chelsea: Mendy (7); Chilwell (7), Silva (7), Christensen (6), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (7) (James (6), 67 ‘); Jorginho (6), Mont (6), Kante (7); Pulisic (7) (Ziyech (6), 66 ′), Werner (6) (Havertz (6), 66 ′).
Goals: Pulisic (14), Benzema (29)
Arbitrator: Danny makkelie
Yellow cards: Vinicius Jr (27 ′), Pulisic (38 ′), Kroos (60 ′), Marcelo (65 ′), Varane (78 ′), Odriozola (89 ′)
Red cards: N / A