Chelsea held in Madrid
If you had informed Chelsea’s fans ahead of kick-off at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Tuesday that their side would come away with a 1-1 draw to take back to Stamford Bridge, most would likely have been quite pleased.
Real Madrid, after all, are Champions League specialists, and have already won the trophy three times under their current boss.
However, when all was said and done in the Spanish capital, those of a Chelsea persuasion were in fact left feeling rather aggrieved.
Another Thomas Tuchel masterclass against a big-name boss saw Chelsea dominate Madrid for large periods of the first-leg whilst, crucially, limiting Los Blancos to just a single shot on goal across the 90 minutes.
Herein, though, lies one of the Londoners’ biggest issues under Tuchel. Chelsea, for all their dominance, notched just one goal.
Madrid, on the other hand, scored with their only shot on target, earning the Spanish champions an arguably undeserved draw.
Real, though, unlike Chelsea, are of course in possession of a world-class striker, in the form of Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman, who now sits joint 3rd in the all-time Champions League goalscoring charts, had maybe two half-chances on Tuesday, yet he still nearly scored two goals.
The first saw Benzema smash a long-range effort off Edouard Mendy’s post. Then, the hitman once again created a chance out of nothing 28 minutes in, turning and smashing home a volley inside the Chelsea six-yard box:
THUNDEROUS FINISH! ⚡️
Benzema smashes the ball home on the turn and volley. Such a clinical strike!
Against the run of play Real Madrid are level… pic.twitter.com/byfE5d9wt6
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 27, 2021
Chelsea, on the other hand, had Timo Werner up top on Tuesday. And the gulf in class between the two no.9s was evident in Madrid.
The German was of course a fairly prolific goalscorer at RB Leipzig last term. Since making the move to England, though, Werner looks a man devoid of any sort of confidence.
Chelsea’s fans no doubt hoped to see that confidence return following their hitman’s winner against West Ham last weekend. Yet, in the very same game, Werner went on to miss another sitter, much to the dismay of Thomas Tuchel:
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) April 24, 2021
Then, again, in Madrid, the 25-year-old fluffed his lines from six yards out:
Timo Werner missed this … pic.twitter.com/zSj49Akkyz
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 27, 2021
Following the clash with Madrid, Tuchel appeared to let his frustrations with Werner be known, before attempting to move on from the situation:
“He missed a big one in West Ham now he missed another big one here. That does not help, but it also does not help to cry about it or to regret it all the time. It is like this. There are millions of people who have harder things to deal with than chances that you miss, so this is the good thing about sports – nobody cares tomorrow. Today we were sad we were angry at the moment, this is normal.
“He is angry. He may be disappointed. Tomorrow he has a free day and the next day he has to put his chin up. He is a professional guy, a top guy, he works hard. He is in positions and from there on we go.”
Big games need big players
But the Chelsea boss will nevertheless be well aware that it is such clear-cut chances which can decide entire ties at this stage in the Champions League.
Werner’s qualities – goalscoring aside – should not be underappreciated, with his blistering pace and ability to play off the last man a real problem for opposing defences.
However, if Tuchel persists with his fellow countryman as Chelsea’s main goalscoring threat this season – which looks likely after Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud were essentially frozen out – then the Blues could be set to miss out on their second-ever Champions League trophy due to a lack of cutting edge in the final third.
As already highlighted, the presence of a top finisher such as Benzema can keep you in/win you games at this level.
Werner, though, has now missed more big chances in league and European competition than any other Premier League player this season:
No Premier League player has missed more Big Chances in league and European competition this season than Timo Werner:
◎ 29 Big Chances
◉ 21 missed
◎ 8 scored
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 27, 2021
Obviously, with just one semi-final leg and a final to play (if they beat Madrid), it is not out of the question that Chelsea could win the Champions League this season.
But, unlike their first triumph in the competition in 2012, the Londoners, now, do not have someone they can truly rely on to score big goals in big games.
In 2011/12, Didier Drogba netted six goals and provided two assists in eight CL appearances, including crucial strikes in the last 16 vs Napoli, semi-final vs Barcelona and final vs Bayern Munich.
Werner, on the other hand, has scored just three European goals for the Blues, all of which came in the group stage vs Krasnodar and Stade Rennais.
Even more concerningly, Werner’s six goals in the Premier League this term have too come against smaller sides – two vs Southampton, one vs Burnley, one vs Newcastle, one vs Sheffield United and one vs West Ham.
So, when it comes down to it, with half-chances having the potential to make or break your season, it is clear that Chelsea, at present, simply do not boast the man to take them – something Tuchel and co. will no doubt be keen to address in the summer.
This article was edited by
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