Real Madrid have been eliminated from the 2020/21 Champions League. By falling to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their semi-final tie with Chelsea, Los Blancos now place all their hopes of silverware in the LaLiga title race. They were outplayed by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and we have so much to talk about, so here comes three questions that were answered and three new ones that have been created tonight.
1. How would Zidane’s line-up come together?
Even once the line-ups were announced, there were still many doubts over how exactly Real Madrid would line up. Would it be a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3? What sides would Vinícius and Eden Hazard play on? Well, once the ball got rolling we could see that it was a 3-5-2 and that Vinícius was the right-wing-back. That was odd. This wasn’t just asking the Brazilian to play out of one position. It was asking him to play out of two positions. It was asking him to play wing-back when that dilutes what he is as a winger significantly. And it was asking him to play on the right, where he is nowhere near as effective as he is when on the left. Zidane said in his post-match press conference that Vinícius can play there. I’m not so sure. It didn’t work and it’s not the player’s fault.
2. Would Ramos and Mendy be 100 percent?
Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy both started this match, returning from injury in time to make it. But, would they be 100 percent? Both players were doubts even after making the squad, so surely they wouldn’t be at their peak. In Ramos’ case, he had only played 90 minutes twice in all of 2021. “Every player who played was prepared to play,” Zidane said after the game, but it didn’t look like it in the case of Ramos. The captain didn’t look sharp.
3. How would Real Madrid stop Kanté?
In the first leg, N’Golo Kanté was brilliant. Chelsea in general were great in the first leg, but Kanté was particularly dangerous in his box-to-box role and won the official man of the match award. So, what would Real Madrid do to stop him in this game? Amazingly, nothing. Kanté was just as brilliant, if not more, and he won the man of the match award again. It’s quite shocking how Real Madrid let Kanté run the show again, while it’s so impressive what the Frenchman did, especially considering he was fasting for Ramadan.
1. Will Real Madrid ever beat Chelsea?
In a certain sense, Chelsea have the best record against Real Madrid of all clubs. The English side have now faced Real Madrid five times in official competitions and have enjoyed three wins, two draws and zero defeats against the Spanish side. There is no other club that Real Madrid has faced so many times without winning at least once. Meanwhile, Zidane’s record against Thomas Tuchel is now two wins for Tuchel and four draws from six meetings.
2. Will Courtois win the Champions League he deserves?
Real Madrid only stayed in this tie for as long as they did because of Thibaut Courtois. After his super save against Timo Werner in the first leg, he made several more in the second leg to keep Real Madrid just one goal away from extra time until the 85th minute. Courtois deserves to win a Champions League for all he has done with Atlético Madrid, Chelsea and now Real Madrid, but he never has lifted Europe’s most important trophy. Let’s see if he ever does.
3. Where does Hazard go from here?
The image of Eden Hazard laughing with some of his former Chelsea teammates after full time has not gone down well in Spain. Not at all. The late night Spanish radio and TV have all jumped on this and so too have many fans. There is so much about Hazard that is more concerning than this, but it is another straw to break the camel’s back. It’s not a good look and it was really silly from him, knowing how many cameras there are at every Champions League game. I’m sure Courtois greeted and congratulated and maybe even joked with some of his former Chelsea teammates too after the game, but not in public. Publicly, what the goalkeeper did was tweet about Real Madrid’s disappointment. Hazard didn’t do that and now the question is, where does he go from here? Can he ever win over the Real Madrid fans?