Real Madrid 1-1 Chelsea (Benzema). Madrid held in the first leg. Here is the immediate reaction to the draw. Up next: Player ratings, press conference quotes, and the podcast.
Real Madrid have exceeded expectations by making in this far in the Champions League during such an obscure season. It is now only Chelsea in the way of yet another final for the club, and after having brushed passed Liverpool in the last round Zidane’s side should have all the confidence to go one further. The team put out was an experimental one, with the manager opting for a 3-5-2 type shape using Dani Carvajal and Marcelo as advanced wing-backs. The rest of the team was also strong, but Eden Hazard remained a fixture on the bench - although his time to shine would surely come at some point. Castilla players Diego Altube, Miguel Gutiérrez, Antonio Blanco and Sergio Arribas all joined him on the bench.
Being British, the build up to and start of this game initially had a very similar feel to it as the Liverpool game, but it soon became clear that Chelsea had come to put up more of a fight. It was also apparent that the Madrid players were not entirely comfortable in this formation, and that allowed the visitors to exploit a lot of the space left behind the wing-backs and cause a lot of early trouble. Thibaut Courtois was at his usual standard when he had no right to save a Timo Werner effort from point blank, but did anyway. This strong Chelsea spell did come with reward however when Christian Pulisic was given far too much time and room inside the area and managed to round pretty much everyone before finding the net. Chelsea continued to threaten Madrid, but the hosts refused to capitulate and found themselves level from none other but Karim Benzema. After almost scoring a screamer not long earlier, the Frenchman controlled an Éder Militão flick on with his chest before almost breaking the goal with the power he managed to cram into the volley. This evened out the play nicely, with both teams eager to add to their tallies. Half time arrived with the score remaining 1-1.
Chelsea started the second half on the front foot, forcing the Madrid defence to make two strong blocks - before Benzema fired over at the other end. Eden Hazard entered the stage just after the hour mark, but Chelsea made changes of their own and began to really dominate. After seemingly weathering the storm, Álvaro Odriozola and Marco Asensio came on to freshen the wings. Despite few clear chances coming from either side for the remainder of the game, Chelsea still looked the better side. A Raphaël Varane header was the best of the lot, but the ball flew just wide. A 1-1 draw can only be seen as a positive result, and it leaves everything to play for during the final game at Stamford Bridge next week. Madrid will need to step it up to make the final, but there remains every chance of achieving that feat. Happy with this result, Madrid fans?