From shock to shock until the intermission, Madrid resisted until they managed to anesthetize Chelsea in the second section. Two games in one. The first was completely ruled by the London team. The Real signed tables later. An achievement after Benzema equaled Pulisic’s opening goal after Courtois left the miracle of each matchday. Without artillery, Chelsea was turned off despite the huge traffic of that little giant that is the French Kanté. With no other fire than Benzema’s, Real Madrid at least found peace in the second period.
The announced Chelsea did not appear for Valdebebas. None of that team that lives off defensive concrete. An astonishment: a fluid Chelsea, with the view to the front, triangulates that triangulates with the ball. Of course, it was Chelsea in something. Attack with altar boys.
Seeing is believing. The owner, billionaire Roman Abramovich, spent 250 million euros in the pandemic last summer on offensive players – Werner, Ziyech, Havertz. Only the first was a starter at Di Stéfano, a Werner at the head of a not very recreational avant-garde. More than half a dozen times the blues were planted on the run on the outskirts of Courtois and always faded on the bottom rung. Werner didn’t even hit a point-blank shot that the Madrid goalkeeper deflected with his right foot. The German fired with plasticine boots. The play symbolized a Chelsea far superior to Madrid in all sectors of the field. In the individual and in the collective.
There was no glue in the ranks of Zidane’s, with many mismatches. The French coach envied with a rear with three centrals to the detriment of Asensio and an asymmetrical attack, with Vinicius on the left and right in the open. Each round was visiting, physically and tactically. Chelsea was on skates, Real was jogging. Tuchel’s centrals articulated the game with solvency until they found Kanté or Jorginho, or Mount and Pulisic. Everything as simple as it is effective. An ambush for Casemiro, who could not do everything with his powerful broom. Until Rüdiger, a center-back, launched Pulisic in the race. So badly balanced was Madrid that Nacho and Varane doubted and doubted until they left Courtois helpless. The American striker dodged the Belgian and, with frozen blood, hit two Madridista stalactites under sticks.
Madrid was sounded, atrophied and slipstream, only supported by Courtois. There was no one who gave the expansive Chelsea a shock treatment. Devoured Vinicius, harassed Kroos, without Modric radar … Real was left with Benzema’s inspiration, which is no small thing. Out of nowhere, the French striker landed his left foot against Mendy’s left post. Benzema, the only Real Madrid kite.
Chelsea had no end. Always very well planted until the goal was already more than a rumor. Then, blank. Benzema is not Werner, so he took Madrid out of the dark room. Kroos, Modric and Marcelo combined in an indirect corner, the Brazilian’s center was caught homeless by Casemiro, Militão combed it and Benzema danced in the middle of the visiting jungle defense. A delight: head control, turn and hit the net. Benzema, an instant, a colossal relief for the whites.
The duel changed gears after the break. Less volume from Chelsea, the same from Madrid, but already less overwhelmed. He was no longer permanently faced with the abyss. The team no longer defended forward, when it was very vulnerable.
With the pace slowed, a traveling Chelsea appeared, more content, more willing to sporadic adventures by free of one or the other than to the collective offensive of the first period. Each one in search of a spark. Who did not alter was Kanté, a great player for everything, for the remove and the touch, of those footballers who fit the field in their boots. Kanté over here, Kanté over there. It already made Atlético bitter and not infrequently put Madrid in parentheses.
There was no attacking comrade to support the extraordinary Kanté. Courtois’ goal was a hazy mirage for Chelsea. Even more so if Militão crossed his path. Nor was there a Real Madrid player who gave Benzema a reel. Zidane warned, who threw the noose to Hazard and retired to Vinicius. He also recruited Asensio shortly after. Benzema only followed, with Madrid busier not to give air to his rival than to cause alerts in the Mendy area. The scares of the first half always kept a Real on alert with the right deposit. So everyone, whites and blues, came to London, aware that the tie will not be decided in two games, but in a long, very long one.