Real Madrid abruptly woke up from their European dream on a cold London night and will have to wait another year to lift the Fourteenth, after Chelsea beat them so emphatically (2-0) that the scoreboard almost fell short.
A header from Timo Werner, not always successful but undetectable for the Whites’ defense, and another from the English jewel Mason Mount sent Chelsea to a stage they have not stepped on since 2012, when they won on penalties against Bayern Munich.
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City awaits him there. There will be an English final, a new example of the European hegemony of Premier League clubs.
Real Madrid, for its part, will have to concentrate what remains of its energies in conquering a Spanish League that it still has within reach.
The two teams came out onto the Stamford Bridge turf, drenched from a waterspout just before the game, with opposing ideas.
“Long possession!”, Sergio Ramos shouted to his teammates, recovered for the cause just in time to dispute the momentous match. The English plan was different: suffocating pressure, vertical attacks, constant mobility.
The result of the first leg, 1-1, did not bode well for a European semi-finals for Real Madrid. It was the score that was taken from the Bernabéu to return to Eindhoven in 1988, where PSV frustrated what is still remembered as the great missed opportunity of the Quinta del Buitre, and the prelude to the humiliation (5-0) to which He was submitted by Milan at the San Siro a year later.
When push came to shove, Zinedine Zidane turned to seniority and presented Real Madrid’s second-oldest starting eleven in the ‘Champions’ (29 years and 237 days). Also forced by the casualties, he recovered Ramos in time and tried to surprise with a tactical variation: defending three centrals to give Vinicius the entire right wing and Mendy the left.
Meanwhile, Tuchel had the same players on the table as the previous week in Madrid, except for the entry of Havertz by Pulisic.
The first minutes passed with the parsimonious white control, which only broke the robberies of the English in hot areas.
After his first leg demonstration in Valdebebas, N’Golo Kanté once again showed that under Tuchel he has risen to become one of the great total midfielders in football.
His line-breaking play to qualify Kai Havertz on the first goal deserves to be repeated a thousand times. Alone against Courtois and with the class to spare, the German striker raised the ball above Courtois.
The ball could have gone in or out, but he wanted to hit the crossbar. As Militao stared passively at the ball, Werner ran like a devil to catch the rebound to push it with his head into the goal. They call it hunger.
Despite everything, Madrid enjoyed two great occasions at the hands of Benzema, which were brilliantly thwarted by Mendy.
Zidane’s tactical variations were expected to touch up a Real Madrid that was not working, but they did not arrive. The only thing that came, again and again, were the occasions of the “Blues”.
Sometimes the crossbar, as in an action by Havertz in the 59th minute, in other Courtois, and in others the defense, as in a providential cut by Valverde against Kanté, prevented the second local goal from arriving.
Madrid could not find any foothold. Nor did the changes improve it. With an absolutely overwhelmed midfield and a tactical display by Tuchel, the second goal, the work of Mason after a new robbery by Kanté, closed the discussion.
There had been no other team than blue for many minutes, superior in the first leg and overwhelming in the second leg. Chelsea got the award they deserved and Real Madrid will have to keep looking.
2 – Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta (d.88, James), Rudiger, Christensen, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Kanté, Jorginho; Havertz (m.94, Giroud), Mount (m.88 Ziyech) and Werner (m.68, Pulisic).
0 – Real Madrid: Courtois; Mendy (m.63, Valverde), Ramos, Militao, Nacho; Modric, Casemiro (d.76, Rodrigo), Kroos; Hazard (m.89, Mariano), Benzema and Vinicius (m.63, Asensio).
Goals: 1-0. Werner, m.28; 2-0. Mount m.85.
Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA), admonished Jorginho (m.14) and Christensen (m.38) for Chelsea, and Ramos (m.37), Nacho (m.62), Kross (m.72) and Valverde (m.90), for Real Madrid.
Incidents: Second leg of the Champions League semifinals played at Stamford Bridge in London behind closed doors.