The coronavirus gave Carlo Ancelotti a few days in which he temporarily recovered a sensation of a footballer, being in doubt until the last moment, in constant focus, while his nose endured one test after another. Until the last one came out negative and the same morning of the game he got on a plane with the president, Florentino Pérez, and they received him at the hotel as an appearance. “I’ve left the team for a week, I’ve come back and I’ve seen a fantastic team”, he said satisfied after the important victory against Chelsea, after the shaking of the classic and the doubts of the match in Balaídos against Celta, watching it on TV from his house.
Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, A. Christensen (Kovacic, min. 45), Kante (Hakim Ziyech, min. 45), Reece James, Azpilicueta, Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek, min. 63), Christian Pulisic (Lukaku, min 63), Mason Mount and Kai Havertz
Courtois, Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao (Nacho, min. 63), Kroos (Camavinga, min. 73), Casemiro, Modric, Benzema (Bale, min. 85), Federico Valverde (Dani Ceballos, min. 85) and Vinicius Jr.
goals 0-1 min. 20: Benzema. 0-2 minutes 23: Benzema. 1-2 minutes 39: Kai Havertz. 1-3 min. 45: Benzema.
Referee Clement Turpin
Yellow cards Eder Militao (min. 13) and Rüdiger (min. 18)
His satisfaction pointed to having solved the main problem that Madrid encountered last year in the semifinals against the same team, insufficient energy, where Tuchel’s team beat them. “The most important thing has been the courage that the players have had. The key has been that we have come out very well with the ball, looking for space between the lines. We have attacked very well. Vinicius has been very dangerous, and also Karim. They have made very good combinations”, said the coach. Courtois was aligned with him. “We started well against a very intense team,” he explained. “I think we had to take the game to our side, have the ball, invite them to press up high. It was having confidence in our football to get the ball out of the pressure and there we have created a lot of danger”, added the goalkeeper.
In the change of tone for Madrid, the participation of Federico Valverde was decisive, whose deployment allowed the team to develop with a liquid configuration, and appear where it was most necessary in each circumstance, a man for almost everything, as Ancelotti explained: “We have played with the same system. The only thing, Valverde. I have put him to fix the position of the left lane and have Carvajal a little more inside, to control the midfielders, Pulisic and Mount. Sometimes he could make a line of five, it depended on Azpilicueta’s position”.
On the other bench, Thomas Tuchel ended up desperate; “We have conceded seven goals in five days. It is alarming. Seven goals in two games”, he said, adding to Madrid’s three the four that Brentford scored for them on Saturday, also at Stamford Bridge. “We have lost our form during the national team break. I don’t have an explanation. Before we were competitive, we were on a good run”.
But that seems to have vanished, and Chelsea’s German coach, who last year led them to lift their second European Cup, looks pessimistically at the future of this quarter-final tie: “How many teams in the world manage to come from behind? this? Get three goals? It’s not realistic,” he said. He didn’t even want to think about the Bernabéu: “I’m more worried about Southampton [su rival del sábado en la Premier] than for Real Madrid”, he assured crestfallen.
Despite the feeling of defeat exhibited in public by Tuchel, Courtois preferred patience: “This 1-3 is a good starting position, but we can’t think it’s done. Football is like that: an early goal from them can put them in the game”, he said.
Ancelotti agreed with the warnings: “Zero trust and a lot of respect for Chelsea. They have not shown their best version thanks to Madrid, but this changes very quickly”, he said. And he wanted to reassure about the physical condition of Benzema and Valverde, who had to be replaced. “It was due to fatigue,” he assured.
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports in Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.