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Open Thread: April 28, 2021

Our Wednesday Edition of the Daily Merengue!

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail, Ezek Ix or NeRObutBlanco.

Real Madrid will need to score goals at Stamford Bridge.

To say Real Madrid escaped with a draw would be putting it mildly. Zidane’s men were outplayed especially in the first half and thanks to some fine goal keeping from Thibaut Courtois they still have more than a shot at progressing to the Finals. The game was covered in depth in the immediate reaction, player ratings, 3 answers and 3 questions articles as well as the Managing Madrid podcast.

Will Mendy, Ramos and Valverde be available for the return leg?

Real Madrid has suffered injuries all season and were missing key personnel in the first leg at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium. It certainly showed on the pitch as the much younger Chelsea side were able to impose their will on a tired looking Madrid side. Players like Marcelo and Modric didn’t seem to be able to keep up with the pace of the game and will certainly need help in the return leg. In Modric’s case, that can be attributed to fatigue as he’s played heavy minutes this season despite being 35 years old. Marcelo however looks to be in the twilight of his career.

If Ramos, Mendy and Valverde are available for the second leg that will be a huge boost to Zidane’s side. The coach was a bit cagey when asked about their availability.

Tuchel admits he prepared for a 4-3-3 and more Zidane post match quotes.

Our own Kiyan Sobhani asked the German about his strategy heading into the game, and whether or not he expected Zinedine Zidane to go with three at the back, and if it changed his game plan at all.

“We knew that they finished the last game and the game against Barcelona in a 5-3-2,” Tuchel began to explain. “We knew that there was the possibility that maybe they would switch their formation to adapt to our formation. In the end I thought that they would stay in their 4-3-3, which they usually play for 90-95 per cent of their matches. So we prepared for a 4-3-3.

“When we saw the line-up we had a quick talk in the dressing room to slightly change the moments against the ball, like who has to do what with the two strikers and the three in the middle. We had to adapt where we could push out, but only defensively. Offensively it didn’t change much”.

Zidane also spoke to the press after the game and stressed the importance of managing player minutes for the second leg. “We struggled with their press, but we changed things around and were far better after the break”, declared the boss. We play again on Saturday and we have to be in good shape for the return leg because tonight’s was a very evenly matched game. That’s what we’ll be up against at their place. I’m sure the return leg will be tough and we’re going to have to manage the players’ game time, there’s no question about that”. Well that only means one thing. Rotations rotations against Osasuna.

Let’s look at that Karim Benzema goal one more time.

The Frenchman has been carrying Madrid all season and once against came to Los Blancos rescue with a fantastic piece of control and a fabulous finish. He could have had one earlier as well but hit the post instead with a thunderous left foot strike. Benzema has now equaled Raul as the 4th top scorer in Champions League history with 71 goals. Zidane once again praised the striker by stating “Karim is so impressive. I’m delighted for him. I’m not surprised by what he does in every game”.

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