Real Madrid 1-1 Chelsea: Five talking points from the blockbuster semi-final clash | UCL 2020-21

Zidane-Tuchel-Real Madrid-Chelsea-UCL

Chelsea managed to grind out a priceless 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals away from home.

The Blues managed to open the scoring through Christian Pulisic but Real Madrid managed to level things up through Karim Benzema.

Here at Anytime Football we look at the five key talking points from the blockbuster Champions League clash earlier tonight.

Zidane’s tactical switch backfired once again

At the start of the season when Real Madrid were struggling, the French manager used a back three formation.

Los Blancos are used to playing a 4-3-3 formation and the changes in system hurt their rhythm and form earlier on in the season.

Zidane made the same mistake once again when he employed a back three against Chelsea earlier tonight.

Despite the 4-3-3 working like a charm against Liverpool in the quarter-finals the Real Madrid manager decided to experiment with his tactics in a crucial encounter and it has cost him dearly.

Zidane: "It’s a fair result. Our first half was not the best. We had trouble with their pressing, but I think we made up for it in the second half, and were much better." #UCL

Tuchel’s decision to start Timo Werner

The German manager continues to demonstrate his faith by selecting Werner for big games but the 25-year-old let his side down once again with his poor finishing.

Werner missed a glorious opportunity to put Chelsea ahead from close range but his poor effort was easily saved by Thibaut Courtois.

The likes of Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud have done better than the German when given a chance and they will feel aggrieved to have missed out tonight despite making important contributions earlier on in the season.
No Premier League player has missed more Big Chances in league and European competition this season than Timo Werner: ◎ 29 Big Chances ◉ 21 missed ◎ 8 scored Another huge chance tonight. #UCL
Thomas Tuchel on Timo Werner: "He missed a big one at West Ham and he missed a big one here but it is nothing to cry about. This is the best thing about sport, nobody cares tomorrow. He is maybe angry." [via @Sam_InkersoleTM]

N’Golo Kante – the ultimate big-game player

The French World Cup winner was unplayable tonight and he managed to breakdown the Real Madrid build-up and harass the opposition midfielders throughout the game.

Kante was awarded the man of the match trophy after the game and he was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch.

The Frenchman helped out Chelsea defensively and Real Madrid struggled to create clear cut opportunities because of his midfield masterclass.

1 - Real Madrid registered just one shot on target versus Chelsea; since 2003-04, only versus Paris Saint-Germain (0) in September 2019 have they had fewer in a UEFA Champions League game. Neutralised. #UCL
N'Golo Kanté contested more duels (21) and completed more take-ons (6) than any other player on the pitch during Real Madrid 1-1 Chelsea.
N'golo Kante completed more dribbles (6) than the entire Real Madrid team (5) today

The ever-reliable Karim Benzema

The Real Madrid striker produced a touch of class when he equalized for his side earlier tonight.

Benzema has been ever-present for Real Madrid this season and tonight’s goal takes his tally up to 28 goals for the season in all competitions.

The Frenchman scored a sensational goal against Chelsea from an acute angle and most strikers would not have even considered it as a chance.

Champions League goals since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid: 
Ronaldo: 14
Benzema: 15
Stepping out of the shadow #UCL

The rise of Eder Militao

The injury to Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos allowed the Brazilian defender to hold down a regular starting berth in the Real Madrid starting lineup over the last few weeks and he seems to have grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

Militao was exceptional against Liverpool over the two legs and he was undoubtedly Real Madrid’s best player tonight.

The Brazilian read the game well and was sharp with his interception and tackles.

The Blues could have easily added to their advantage if not for his reliable performance at the back tonight.

Eder Militão vs Chelsea: 
7 tackles 
7 clearances 
3 interceptions 
1 blocked shot 
2 dribbles completed 
68 passes completed 
91% passing accuracy 
COLOSSAL performance! #UCL#rmalive

What happens next?

It will be interesting to see if Chelsea can book their place in the finals of the Champions League with a favourable result at Stamford Bridge now.

The Blues cannot afford to underestimate the Spanish giants especially with Real Madrid’s history in the Champions League.

The Los Blancos are good enough to mount a comeback against any side and Chelsea will have to remain focused next week.