It could have been comfortable. It should have been comfortable. Chelsea outscored Real Madrid almost from start to finish, just as they had in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, and yet there was a palpable sense of relief on Wednesday when Mason Mount finally scored the second goal. decisive with six minutes to go. That secured a 3-1, 2-0 aggregate victory on the day, sending Chelsea on a date with Manchester City in the Champions League final in Istanbul at the end of the month.
The contrast to the drama of their last semi-final in the competition was striking. In 2012, when Chelsea won their only Champions League to date, they survived wave after wave of pressure against Barcelona, somehow winning 3-2 on aggregate when Fernando Torres sealed the victory with a late goal in the against at the Camp Nou. Here it was Chelsea that advanced relentlessly, their counterattacks destroying Real Madrid. This was an immensely impressive performance, the only quibble was the fact that it took so long to put the game to bed.
This will be the third fully English final, and the second in the last three seasons, which is an exact reflection of how dominant the Premier League teams have been this season. Manchester City and Chelsea in their prime are a bit ahead of every other team in Europe, and that will terrify the traditional elites. It was the rise of the petroclubs, the way they are insulated from the financial storms of the pandemic, that led to the Super League proposals. Man City and Chelsea were the two least convinced members of the 12 rebels who signed up, and the first two clubs to indicate they would withdraw. A month after the idea of the Super League was defeated, they will play the Champions League final.
For Thomas Tuchel, there is the possibility of an instant rematch after PSG’s loss to Bayern Munich in last season’s final. He becomes the first coach to reach two consecutive finals with different clubs. For Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, there are big problems ahead: the Super League was an attempt to tackle the big economic problems and this is a squad that, quite clearly, needs a great rejuvenation.
Chelsea were able to spend a lot last summer, and it was two of those new signings that brought the first goal. Timo Werner’s tribulations in front of goal have been a feature of this season. While he’s generally played well, at least since Tuchel took office in January, he’s missed a number of simple chances, and had he been a bit sharper, both with his finish and his race timing, the tie might have been. finished very far. before it was. He had a goal disallowed for unnecessary offside on Wednesday, before he was presented at 28 minutes with an opportunity he could not miss. N’Golo Kanté was the architect, with his ball stabbing Kai Havertz, who extravagantly finished the ball over Thibaut Courtois. The ball shot off the bar and Werner nodded from six feet away.
That left Real Madrid in the slightly odd position of having to do what only West Brom has accomplished so far against Tuchel’s Chelsea: score two goals. The pattern of play had been very similar to that of Madrid. Chelsea were much better against a largely pedestrian Madrid, but Karim Benzema offered a constant threat, landing two excellent saves from Edouard Mendy.
But apart from Benzema, this was tame from Madrid. It is not the first time this season that a La Liga team looks physically inferior to an English or German rival. Eden Hazard, back from injury, started on the flank, but after missing much of this season through injury, he seemed understandably slow. On the other wing, Vinicius Junior, so vivacious against Liverpool in the final round, was only intermittently involved.
Chelsea was so constantly threatening at halftime that it seemed like Dyed To note. Mount, Havertz and Kanté despised one-on-one, and the nature of football is such that the more opportunities were lost, the more the feeling grew that Madrid might somehow, against all logic, get back into it.
It did not. Kanté once again regained possession and fed American substitute and star Christian Pulisic, who deftly delayed his cross before moving into Mount to score the decisive second goal. It should have ended long before that. It could have ended at halftime in the first leg. But when you win in the end, all of that matters less. Whatever the score, this was an emphatic victory.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.