Champions League: Madrid always comes back | Sports

In the collection of icons of the great nights of Real Madrid in Europe, two rare incidents have been incorporated in recent times: Karim Benzema’s robberies of absent-minded goalkeepers —Ulreich from Bayern, Karius from Liverpool, Donnarumma from PSG and Mendy from Chelsea —, and the scenes of a suffering Militão who can hardly stand upright, but stays on the field while his team resurfaces. He happened against PSG at the Bernabéu, and also last night in London. He clutched his ribs and Benzema displayed a masterful header that deactivated any trace of memory from last season, when the Whites melted into contact with Chelsea’s energy, like a block of ice left in the sun. Madrid forgot that, the 0-4 of the classic and the poor game in Vigo, and got the quarter-final tie on track.


Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, A. Christensen (Kovacic, min. 45), Azpilicueta, Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek, min. 63), Kante (Hakim Ziyech, min. 45), Reece James, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic (Lukaku, min. 63) and Mason Mount


Real Madrid

Courtois, Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao (Nacho, min. 63), Modric, Kroos (Camavinga, min. 73), Casemiro, Vinicius Junior, Benzema (Bale, min. 85) and Federico Valverde (Dani Ceballos , minute 85)

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. 17)

Before the ball was released, Chelsea put a presenter on the pitch: “Welcome back to Stamford Bridge (welcome back to Stamford Bridge)”, which could be interpreted as the usual script, or also with a certain evocative aftertaste. Especially seen from the Madrid side, that the last time he had played here he had done it with empty stands. It could also be the foretaste of what awaited Courtois, who left the club to join the rival of the night.

When a few minutes later the Belgian went to take possession of his goal, boos roared from the north end. Under that, Courtois completed his ritual: he hit one stick, then another, and ended up hanging briefly from the crossbar.

Madrid returned to Stamford Bridge, yes, but as Tuchel had anticipated the previous afternoon, it was not the same team. To begin with, because Ancelotti had chosen eleven healthy players. The year before, in May, Zidane went out with Mendy and Ramos without being recovered, Kroos with pubalgia and Hazard far from what he had been. And among Ancelotti’s healthy eleven, Valverde, the potion against the lack of energy detected in last year’s elimination, that mantra.

Valverde did almost everything on the right wing. When the team defended, he sank down to position himself as a winger, in a defense of five, which pushed Carvajal to position himself as third center back. When they went on the attack, they went up the wing, from area to area, always with gasoline to return. He protected Carvajal, very imprecise, and contributed to the start.

Madrid waited lying down without feeling threatened and when they recovered the ball they stampeded out. It was a return to the comfortable low-running block combination in which Ancelotti had taken refuge after the first failed attempts at high pressure. This is how the first scare came to Chelsea. A robbery by Valverde, a pass to Benzema, who returns with a heel so that the Uruguayan launches Vini Jr., who cuts and shoots the crossbar.

This is how Madrid lived, less anguished than last year, much less drowned out by a midfield occupied at first by Kanté, Jorginho and Mount. They found many more exits than the other time, with patience behind, and acceleration from the middle of the field. That’s how the 0-1 came. Benzema sent Vini running, who put the ball on his head. The Frenchman unleashed a powerful shot that froze the stadium and reassured Ancelotti a bit, worried about the suffering Militão, who had received a blow to the right side. Nacho was already warming up in the band.

Headbutt to Headbutt

With the Brazilian still clutching his ribs, it was soon 0-2, another header from Benzema, but from a very different record. Modric dropped a squishy, ​​floating center, which the Frenchman subtly hit as he ran back. Very far from Mendy, very delicately. The scoreboard accentuated the calm with which Madrid deployed its waiting plan, while Chelsea carried the ball from one side to the other. In one of those trips from the windshield, Jorginho hung a cross behind the defenders and Havertz headed it 1-2.

Tuchel moved chips to return from the break: Kovacic for Christensen, Ziyech for Kanté and went to defense of four. It did not give time to know anything about the effect that the movement could have. Edouard Mendy’s blunder in a pass to Rüdiger was caught by Benzema, as always when a goalkeeper falls asleep.

Chelsea only produced a few minutes of restlessness and embarrassed Madrid with the second round of substitutions, when Lukaku and Loftus-Cheek came on. A couple of occasions, a couple of anxieties at the start, a save by Courtois, and Ancelotti recharged the batteries: Camavinga for Kroos. And the rebellion subsided.

But the ailments began, which worried more than for the night at Stamford Bridge for the one at the Bernabéu. Benzema and Valverde, the two best, limped off to the bench and Gareth Bale was seen again in white for a few minutes, the only one who went to the locker room without greeting the Madrid fans. There was one last resistance exercise that Madrid overcame with skill. Tuchel was right: nothing was like last year.

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