Real Madrid and Chelsea Share Spoils as Benzema Replies to Pulisic

The first Champions League match ever between Real Madrid and Chelsea ended 1-1 at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in the first Semi Final of the top European competition. It was the Blues, however, who could be happier with the outcome as they interrupted the Merengues‘ four-game winning streak at home and collected an overly-important away goal. 

Thomas Tuchel’s squad could have even gotten something more out of the match at the Alfredo Di Stefano, especially during the initial stages of the games – when their domination resulted in Christian Pulisic’s opener 14 minutes after kick-off.

But Madrid, despite being far from their best version, resorted to their international experience to pull themselves out of trouble as Karim Benzema whipped the ball into the Blues’ net on 15 minutes later to draw level for the home side.

The second half was much less vibrant that a sparkling first period and the score didn’t change anymore, leaving the two-leg Semi Final still open as the two sides prepare to meet again in one week at Stamford Bridge.

With Captain Sergio Ramos still unavailable, Zinedine Zidane deployed Los Blancos with a 3-5-2 setup where Dani Carvajal and Marcelo acted as wing-backs and Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior led the front-line. Thomas Tuchel’s lineup featured Timo Werner as a lone striker supported by Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount.

It was Chelsea’s German striker to come up with the first scoring attempt, forcing Thibaut Courtois to stretch his foot to brilliantly push back his point-blank range challenge. The Englishmen’s mounting assault caught Real by surprise and Chelsea drew first blood on 14 minutes.

Former Roma man Antonio Rudiger served Christian Pulisic in the box and the U.S. international bested Nacho and rounded Courtois before slotting the ball home and giving Chelsea a well-deserved lead.

The Blues’ advantage lasted only until the half hour mark, however, as Karim Benzema drew level for Madrid with a brutal volley that left no chance to Edouard Mendy, concluding for the best a chaotic action in the visitors’ area.

It seemed the prelude to a vibrant second half but both sides unexpectedly hit the brakes after the restart and the match tempo considerably slowed down. There were no significant scoring chances to report during the last 45 minutes, despite both coaches trying to increase the quality of the game with multiple changes.

Neither former Chelsea striker Eden Hazard, nor Tuchel’s substitutes Hakim Zyiech and Kai Havertz managed to trouble the opposition goalkeepers as the score remained set at 1-1. Everything will be decided at Stanford in eight days, with Chelsea having a slight advantage to defend.  



April 27, 2021 – Champions League 2020-21 Semi Finals

SCORERS: 14′ Pulisic (C), 29′ Benzema (R)

REAL MADRID (3-5-2): Courtois; Varane, Militao, Nacho; Carvajal (77′ Odriozola), Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Marcelo (77′ Asencio); Vinicius (66′ Hazard), Benzema (92′ Rodrygo) (Lunin, Altube, Gutiérrez, Blanco, Arribas, Isco, Mariano Diaz) Coach: Zidane
CHELSEA (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (67′ James), Jorginho, Kanté, Chilwell; Pulisic (66′ Ziyech), Mount; Werner (66′ Havertz) (Caballero, Kepa, Alonso, Emerson, Zouma, Gilmour, Giroud, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi) Coach: Tuchel

REFEREE: Makkelie (Netherlands)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Varane, Kroos, Marcelo, Vinicius, Odriozola (R), Pulisic (C); Extra Time: First Half 0′, Second Half 4′