Among the customs of Real Madrid at this time is to appear in the semifinal of the Champions League, it doesn’t matter if it does so with the miraculous agony of last year, with the security with which they got rid of Liverpool in the round of 16 and with which they solved the first leg of the quarterfinals against Chelsea, or crouching down while the English looked for him at Stamford Bridge. Does not matter. They are already in the semifinals, the eleventh in the last 13 years, waiting to see if Manchester City picks up in Munich what they sowed with the 3-0 at home and they see each other again on the step before the final. Like last year. Also like then, Rodrygo appeared to unblock a match against Chelsea, once again falling in love with the Brazilian and the European Cup to boost Madrid.
Arrizabalaga, Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Wesley Fofana, Cucurella (Mykhailo Mudryk, min. 67), Reece James, Kovacic, Enzo Jeremias Fernandez (Sterling, min. 67), Kai Havertz (Mason Mount, min. 76), Conor Gallagher (João Félix, min. 67) and Kante
Courtois, Eder Militao, Alaba (Rüdiger, min. 45), Camavinga, Dani Carvajal (Nacho, min. 81), Modric, Federico Valverde, Kroos (Dani Ceballos, min. 76), Benzema (Aurelien Tchouameni, min. 71) , Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo (Marco Asensio, min. 81)
goals 0-1 min. 57: Rodrigo. 0-2 min. 79: Rodrigo.
Referee Daniele Orsato
Yellow cards Eder Militao (min. 21), Cucurella (min. 34), Reece James (min. 50) and Mykhailo Mudryk (min. 89)
Until he arrived, Madrid seemed stranded. The afternoon before, Frank Lampard said that he had reviewed the two games last year in addition to the first leg. At the beginning at Stamford Bridge, throughout the first half even, his Chelsea, who had lost all three appointments under his command, seemed to have understood what to do. The ball was his, the space was his. The insistence, too. Madrid barely found ways to grab the ball and take command.
Among the lessons that Lampard found was the incidence of Vinicius, who messes up the entire team of the rival. But sometimes it also unbalances yours, or points to the area where it can be easier to find cracks. He threatens both Reece James’s back and allows the rival to venture on his.
So the Chelsea coach returned to the defense of three central defenders with James and Cucurella on the rails. Especially pointing to the left of Madrid, where Vinicius and Camavinga lived, an also circumstantial apprentice. The English searched for water over and over again. There Lampard constantly pushed his lane, and even Kanté. And from there the chances began to arrive in the Courtois area, the first a dislocated shot from Kanté two meters from the goal.
Almost everything worked for Chelsea, except the shot. They had understood where to place themselves, where to press, and they stole quite high. They insisted, and insisted, with Kovacic and Enzo Fernández distributing, a distribution to which Kai Havertz contributed, floating between the lines.
Madrid held on, protected by the first leg advantage and the safety of Alaba, Militão and the inspiration of Courtois. He also sent some signal that he’s always two runs away from a fatal bite. Or to one, if it belongs to Fede Valverde. The Uruguayan crossed from box to box with a ball that Courtois had caught, and Benzema ended up finishing it off. Ancelotti’s team did not basting, always in tow. He was still there, asleep, or lurking, because from time to time he finished off, even if offside.
Lampard had spent days trying to convince his players that the European Cup was capable of reviving dying teams, which is something that happened to him a decade earlier in that same team. Owner Todd Boehly chose a different tack: on Saturday, after watching them lose to Brighton, he walked into the dressing room and told them he found what he had seen “embarrassing.” Whatever it was, for almost an hour it looked as if Chelsea might revive again. Until Rodrygo appeared.
He flew down the right flank, jumped past Chalobah, entered the box alone and put it behind for Benzema. The Frenchman was surrounded, and the ball went a little further to Vinicius, who had not been able to do any harm with the vertigo and destroyed the break. He waited and waited until Rodrygo arrived, and he gave it to him. The goal on the 21st put an end to Plan A for Lampard, who then tried to resort to total madness.
He suddenly introduced João Félix, Mudryk and Sterling. Ancelotti responded with Tchouameni and Ceballos. “Play, play!” He yelled from the band. Chelsea messed up, Madrid found Vinicius, and he found Valverde, who crossed the area as if the defense were frozen and left it to Rodrygo, who had time to count to three before pushing it to less than half a meter.
It was already done. Madrid again in the Champions League semifinal, although with the concern that they will not be able to count on Militão due to the accumulation of cards, and the uneasiness of Alaba’s inconvenience, which forced Rüdiger to enter after the break. Again Rodrygo in love with the Orejona, whom Ancelotti received on the bench with a kiss.
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.