Chelsea turned in a brilliant performance at Stamford Bridge to beat Real Madrid 2-0 and cruise into an all-English Champions League final against Manchester City.
Madrid started well, controlling possession and passing the ball around the pitch really well but failing to create any real clear cut chances. Chelsea threatened by having a goal ruled out for offside, but not long after Kai Havertz was put in and dinked the ball over Thibaut Courtois off the crossbar, allowing Timo Werner to head home on the goal-line unchallenged.
From then on Chelsea controlled the game without the ball, with Madrid failing to create anything of note and the Blues missed a hatful of chances. Havertz missed a big one on one, while Mason Mount fired over the bar when he was put through on goal.
Chelsea however finally wrapped up progression to the final with five minutes to go, as man of the match N’Golo Kante nicked the ball high up and found substitute Christian Pulisic who squared to Mount to tap in under pressure and make it 2-0.
The French midfielder had one of the best performances of his season, covering every blade of grass and showing that trademark energy and defensive efficiency to completely nullify the Real Madrid midfield and attack.
Defensively the entire Chelsea team was brilliant with Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger completely dominant as Thomas Tuchel’s side continued their brilliant defensive record under the German’s tutelage this year.
They’ll come up against an incredible Manchester City side in Instanbul on May 29th, with Pep Guardiola’s side assuring their own place in the final with a dominant win over Paris Saint-Germain both home and away.
These two teams met recently in the FA Cup semi-final and it was Tuchel who got the victory on that occasion, winning 1-0 thanks to a Hakim Ziyech goal on the counter.
While Chelsea are likely to set up in a similar manner in the Champions League final, Guardiola is likely to look for a way to counter that set up and claim the third victory of this trophy of his career. Tuchel of course lost in the final last season with PSG, with Bayern winning 1-0 in Lisbon.
The job he has done at Stamford Bridge shouldn’t be understated. He took over from Frank Lampard in January with the club languishing in mid-table outside the top four and as underdogs against Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of this competition.
Since then he has overseen a complete overhaul in style but also in mentality. It was in January when Lampard stated that “Chelsea is not a club ready to compete,” yet just four months later they find themselves in the top four and in two cup finals.
No new signings since his departure, no exits, just pure tactical nous and coaching ability. It’s a credit to him that he has become the first manager ever to lead two different clubs to Champions League finals in consecutive years.
He drafted in the likes of Rudiger from the cold, with the defender being one of the best performers for the club this season while he has managed to get Havertz performing at a much better level too. Small tweaks to the team like that have got the place buzzing once again and there is a feeling that something special is happening in west London once again.
Chelsea and City will have a dress rehearsal of the final this weekend when they meet in the Premier League, with City knowing a win for them will clinch the title while Chelsea look to secure a top four spot.