Raphael Varane has said Chelsea’s pressing game has proved problematic for Real Madrid, although he remains optimistic about his club’s Champions League chances.
Karim Benzema saved Madrid on Tuesday as Los Blancos gathered from behind to draw 1-1 at home with Chelsea in the semi-final opener in the Spanish capital.
Madrid got off to a slow start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, although Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.
Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid were unable to find a winner in a more temperamental second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other team in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do it in four matches (D2 L2).
– Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) April 27, 2021
Reflecting on the game, Varane – who was linked with a move to opponents Los Blancos on Tuesday – told Movistar: “I think we saw two games between the first half and the second.
“They started well with a lot of intensity and they pressed us well, and they broke our first press line with a very vertical play. With Karim’s goal we got into the game and the second half was much better.
“We couldn’t break their lines with our overtaking. Their press was annoying for us and we will have to learn early in the game for the second leg.
Benzema has once again shown his importance to Madrid – the Frenchman tied with Raul as the fourth goalscorer in Champions League history after scoring his 71st goal.
Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, Raul level).
Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six Champions League goals this season. In just one of his 16 seasons in the competition, he scored more (seven in 2011-12).
“In a game like this Benzema makes a difference – he changed the dynamics of the game. We know his quality and he helps us a lot,” said Varane.
“At this point in the competition, our physical condition will be important both physically and mentally. We have to go out to win the second leg. “
– Real Madrid CF (@realmadriden) April 27, 2021
Benzema’s goal was Madrid’s lone shot on target against Chelsea. It was only against Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – that they have had less in a Champions League game since Opta started collecting such data. in 2003-04.
Meanwhile, it was the only game in which Madrid failed to score at least two home goals this season in the Champions League. Still, it is the team that has scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).
“We came up with a plan to do things and we couldn’t do it,” Marcelo told Movistar. “But when we started doing what we wanted, it was totally different.
“They run a lot, we knew it could happen, but there is also another game. We know what to do. It will be different at Stamford Bridge.
“We don’t choose the pace of the game, we have to adapt to what there is. It was a tough game, as they all are, but we’re fine, we’re calm because we’re going to play a good game there [at Chelsea]. “
“We left with our heads held high. Now we are going to rest and see what we have to do there, but that will surely change.