Advantage Chelsea – but Blues may rue missed chance to punish Madrid

This was a hugely-positive night for Thomas Tuchel’s side that proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.

But they will know this could have been so much better after catching Real cold for the first 25 minutes when they should have had more than just Christian Pulisic’s excellent solo goal to show for their superiority.

Karim Benzema’s 29th-minute equaliser came against the run of play – but served to remind Chelsea of the job they have in front of them if they are to reach next month’s final. 

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Real are not the force they were. Defensively they were shambolic as Chelsea repeatedly found space behind an uncomfortable-looking back three.

Yet they were able to weather the storm – both figuratively and literally as the heavens opened in Madrid – and deliver a sucker punch. They are wily operators at this level. While they are a squad of ageing players, they are also a group of serial Champions League winners, who know how to hang in there and wait for their chance.

So, even if Chelsea are the narrow favourites with an away goal to defend in next week’s second leg, Real can never be discounted.

That said, Tuchel may be happy the lesson came now. There should be no surprises back at the Bridge – and it will be of huge encouragement to the German that Real were limited to scraps in the way of chances even as they improved after the break.

Chelsea contained them in the second half – even if they struggled themselves to create openings at the other end. Real tightened up once Zinedine Zidane got a hold of them at the interval. That was to be expected. They could hardly have been more open in the first 45 minutes.

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