Read Sportstar's highlights 2020-21 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg featuring updates from the match of Real Madrid and Chelsea at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Tuesday.
THAT IS ALL FOR TODAY. THANKS FOR TUNING IN!!!!
MATCH REPORT: Madrid and Chelsea draw 1-1 in Champions League semifinals as Pulisic, Benzema find the net
Chelsea will be the happier team of the two but will also rue the many missed chances throughout the match. Timo Werner, despite finding himself in good positions, failed to make his chances count, which might hurt Chelsea in the second-leg. However, the important thing to note is that Chelsea has bagged a precious away-goal scored by Christian Pulisic.
It is far from over for Real Madrid. If Chelsea can do it, so can Madrid and that is what Zidane will be telling his players ahead of the second leg in eight days' time. Benzema's lethal strike gave Madrid the all-important equaliser.
Expect sparks from the second-leg between the two teams.
FULL-TIME!!! (Real Madrid 1 Chelsea 1)
90+1' CHANGE!! Star-striker Benzema is taken off by Zidane for Rodrygo. What a brilliant goal by the Frenchman in the first half.
THREE MINUTES ADDED!!!
88' FOUL!!! That must have hurt. Odriozola collides against Rudiger who was at full speed. He immediately goes down. He is currently receiving treatment.
87' SHOT!!! Kroos lashes one at Mendy but his shot is deflected wide for a corner. It was not that far and Mendy was scrambling in these slippery conditions.
85' Hazard with his first positive contribution in the game. His initial cross was cleared by Christensen but he comes back to stretch the Chelsea defence but Rudiger finally clears the ball.
82' It has been a vintage Kante performance today. Astounding work ethic by the Frenchman. He drives past three Madrid players to find someone in the box. He loses the ball but goes on to win it back again.
79' FREE-KICK' Havertz is brought down by Varane at the right-edge of Madrid's box. Ziyech keeps his shot on target but Courtois saw the ball all the way and gathers it without much fuss.
77' CHANGES!! Asensio and Odriozola on for Carvajal and Marcelo.
76' GOOD BLOCK!!! It is Madrid's chance to threaten from a corner. Benzema tries to score from another volley but this time it is blocked by Kante and James.
74' CORNER!!! Mount swings in a beautiful shot, which is inches away from Rudiger's head. The ball finds Ziyech, whose cross-shot is claimed by an alert Courtois.
69' SHOT!!! A monumental spell of possession as Mount takes a shot from the edge of Madrid's box after Chelsea strings together 40 passes. Varane blocks the shot. The new Chelsea subs clearly having an impact.
67' CHANGES!!! Eden Hazard finally comes on for Vinicius to ply his skills against his former club. James, Havertz and Ziyech on for Azpilicueta, Werner and Pulisic.
66' BOOKING!!! Another tactical foul this time by Marcelo on Pulisic. The Brazilian goes into the book for that.
63' Ziyech and James getting ready for action. Clearly an offensive move by Tuchel. And yes, Eden Hazard is being readied too by the looks of it. Will he break Chelsea hearts?
61' BOOKING!!! Kante with an attempt to wriggle past Madrid's midfield but he is stopped in his tracks by Kroos who ends up fouling him. The German midfield maestro sees a yellow for that.
58' Such a different sight from the first half. Both teams enjoying more possession of the ball. The tempo of the match has considerably dropped.
55' Madrid seeing much more of the ball in midfield now. Whatever Zidane has hammered in his players at the break, seems to be working for now. Modric tries to find Benzema but great interception by Thiago Silva. The Croatian has not really shown his vast arsenal of passes till now. Here's hoping.
51' CHANCE!!! Vinicius hasn't featured too much in this game but he nicks a loose ball in the middle of the park and sets Real for a counter. It ends with Benzema shooting the ball high and wide.
48'CHANCE!!! Werner takes too long to dispatch his shot after a pass from Kante inside Madrid's box. The extra touch allowed Varane to get back and block the German forward's shot.
46' A calmer start to the second compared to the first-half as both teams enjoying equal possession more or less.
Thomas Tuchel will undoubtedly be the more frustrated manager because his team has clearly been more dominant overall despite Madrid players finding their rhythm gradually in the first half after scoring the equaliser. Chelsea with more clear-cut chances but it has been wasteful. Werner finding himself in great positions but failing to convert the chances into goals.
In total contrast, Karim Benzema has been his usual clinical self as his brilliant finish brought his team back into the game. Not only was his goal the equaliser, but it motivated Zidane's unit to find their footing in the game.
45' HALF-TIME!! No added time!!
41' CHANCE!!! Its Werner again in a good position at the right edge of Madrid's penalty box. Ideally he should have crossed to Mount who was eagerly waiting for it but he decided to go for a shot alone and hits the side-netting.
39' BOOKING- Pulisic goes into the referee's book for stopping Marcelo from orchestrating a counter with a challenge on the Brazilian.
38' SHOT- Its Thiago Silva this time who frankly, can score from distance. His shot, however is wide.
32' CHANCE- Real Madrid has picked up the pace now. A quick counter ends with Kroos cutting inside and curling a shot to Mendy's right. The sniper's bullet however, is wide.
29' GOAAAALLLLLL!!!! Who else but Karim Benzema? Madrid works a short corner as Marcelo swings one in, which finds Militao's head. His touch finds Benzema who controls the ball brilliantly and rams the ball in with an athletic finish. A touch and finish goal at its best. (Real Madrid 1 Chelsea 1)
28' BOOKING- Vinicius sees a yellow for his challenge on Pulisic who clearly made the most of it.
26' Chelsea with a counter again. Madrid is shamelessly exposed as Kante makes a defence-breaking run. He finds Chilwell, who scuff his shot from the left flank.
22' THAT WAS CLOSE!!! Karim Benzema with a couple of touches, which takes him infield. He shoots with his left across Mendy's goal but the ball grazes the wrong side of the post.
18' Madrid hasn't found its rhythm yet as the players are all over the place. The lack of chemistry between Zidane's men is quite visible.
14' GOAAAALLLL!!!! What a finish by Pulisic as he keeps his composure after a brilliantly timing his run from a long ball by Rudiger. Absolutely deserved by Chelsea. Clearly the better team till now. (Real Madrid 0 Chelsea 1)
12' Chelsea is all over Madrid and as the Spanish champion is pegged into its own half.
10' WHAT A CHANCE THAT WAS!! WHAT A SAVE!!- Mason Mount with a brilliant run from the middle of the park. His deflected shot off Modric goes to Pulisic, who squared the ball perfectly to Werner with his head. The German's shot was saved excellently by Courtois.
7' FOUL- Militao with a crunching challenge on Mason Mount's ankle as the Englishman tried to navigate through a crowded midfield. No card shown.
5' Quite an aggressive start from away team Chelsea. An animated Tuchel motoring his team from the touchline as usual.
2' OFFSIDE- Commendable effort by Jorginho to find Pulisic who was making a run from the left to the right. The run was slightly mistimed as the flag goes up.
12:30 IST- AND WE ARE UNDERWAY!!!
Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois will hope to keep a clean sheet against his former club.
12:00 IST- 30 MINUTES TO KICK-OFF!!!
Can you spot Eden Hazard??
It has been some journey for Mason Mount!!
11:30 IST- LINEUPS ARE OUT!!
Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois (GK), Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Raphael Varane, Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo (C), Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
Coach- Zinedine Zidane
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy (GK), Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta (C), N'Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner.
Coach- Thomas Tuchel
It started with Jose Mourinho. Then came Diego Simeone, twice, followed by Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and, most recently, Pep Guardiola.
Five of the sharpest coaching minds in European football, all outwitted by Thomas Tuchel since the German took charge of Chelsea in late January.
Indeed, Tuchel’s team didn’t even concede a goal in those wins over Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City during a three-month period that has seen Chelsea transformed from a defensively shaky side to surely the most robust in Europe.
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Ignoring the stats-busting 5-2 loss to West Bromwich Albion, when Chelsea played almost an hour with just 10 men because of Thiago Silva’s sending-off, and the team has let in just four goals in 20 games under Tuchel.
They are amazing numbers that highlight the task awaiting Real Madrid — and its own storied coach, Zinedine Zidane — heading into the Champions League semifinals starting on Tuesday, when the first leg takes place in Spain.
“If it’s not possible to play our nicest match, we are able to not let the opponent play their best match. That’s also a definition of performance,” Tuchel said Monday.
“So we have a strong bond within the squad, I feel we are very, very involved physically in the games, ready to work together, to suffer together,” he added.
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Here’s what has been behind this defensive turnaround that has helped Chelsea get into an FA Cup final, get back into the top four of the Premier League and reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time since 2014:
- In from the cloud -
Tuchel had barely 24 hours with the squad before taking charge of his first game as the replacement for Frank Lampard and he made an immediate decision to bring back two experienced defenders who had been out of favor. Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger — rugged, disciplined and no-nonsense defenders — started the 0-0 draw against Wolverhampton on January 27 and have been mainstays ever since.
A switch to a back three has seen Azpilicueta and Rudiger play either side of Thiago Silva offering protection to the 36-year-old Brazilian who is new to the English game following his move from Paris Saint-Germain and perhaps vulnerable to its relentless intensity.
Even when Silva has been absent and Andreas Christensen has filled in in the middle of the three, the defensive structure has been rock solid. “Most important is quality and commitment, doing the things which are necessary to do,” Tuchel said. “Can I help to cover my teammate when he is going for a challenge? Do I play my role and be 100 per cent reliable? Can the defensive guys rely on the midfielders? Can the midfielders rely on the strikers? This is a clear yes,” he added.
- Remodelled system -
Helping the defense has been Tuchel’s decision to station two deeper-lying central midfielders as protectors. On Tuesday, that will be N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, with Mateo Kovacic out injured. The two sitting midfielders rarely give up space in front of the defense and cover either side when the wing backs — typically Ben Chilwell on the left and Reece James on the right — pour forward. It has been an immovable structure that has helped strangle opponents and force them to play wider. Even Manchester City struggled to create a clear-cut chance at Wembley Stadium when Chelsea won 1-0 in the FA Cup semifinals.
- Floating front line -
Typifying this new relentless work ethic is the make-up of Tuchel’s front three, which no longer has room for an out-and-out target man like Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham. Instead, the preferred trio now appears to be Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, mobile players happy to track back and who value the defensive work almost as much as what they do going forward.
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Chelsea’s attacking numbers have yet to hit the heights under Tuchel as a result. “I think when the results are going well, not many questions can be asked,” Pulisic said. “It is great to watch entertaining, attacking and free-flowing football all the time but when it gets to the end of the season, results matter.”
- Competition for places -
No player is sure of their place under Tuchel — even in goal. First-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has twice lost his place to Kepa Arrizabalaga for back-to-back FA Cup and Premier League games. There is regular rotation in the wing-back role while the front three regularly changes, with Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi coming into the team. It is keeping the players on the toes, and keeping everyone involved. “It makes the bond very, very strong, very close,” Tuchel said.