Chelsea fitter, faster, stronger and just far better than weary Madrid

Chelsea were wonderfully good in setting … The post Chelsea fitter, faster, stronger and just far better than weary Madrid appeared first on Football365.

Chelsea fitter, faster, stronger and just far better than weary Madrid

In the end, the only difficulty Chelsea had to overcome to set up a second all-English Champions League final in three years was self-inflicted.

So strikingly absolute was their dominance, so woefully slow and disorganised were Real Madrid, that was Chelsea’s own failure to take more than one of the many, many clear-cut chances they created and Madrid allowed.

It really was a staggering game to watch. Madrid looked a dishevelled, mismatched mess and not just because of those incongruous black socks. They looked like the England rugby union team, and played about as well. Barring two Karim Benzema attempts in the first half, both smartly dealt with by Edouard Mendy, the most decorated team in this tournament’s history offered precisely nothing in a second leg that nevertheless remained, in theory at least, on a knife-edge until the 85th minute.

Except it never really was. The commentators tried to talk it up, and no doubt Chelsea fans watching had convinced themselves they were about to be Iniesta-ed because being a football fan is to a large degree about putting yourself through needless agonies and always, whatever the situation, expecting and fearing the worst. But really the only possible argument for a Real Madrid goal happening was to evoke sod’s law: so thoroughly one-sided had the game been, and so notably anonymous (if that’s not an oxymoron, which I’m pretty sure it is) Eden Hazard’s trumpeted Stamford Bridge return that it just seemed like one bouncing in off his big Belgian arse was precisely the sort of thing that might happen, because football.

But Chelsea are, except understandably when faced with the unstoppable footballing juggernaut that is Sam Allardyce’s West Brom machine, far too sensible to allow for any of that kind of silliness thank you very much.

While it was not hard to look like a solid defensive unit when such an obvious contrast was being provided by Madrid’s shambolic efforts, marshalled by Sergio Ramos playing from amnesia, solid is what Chelsea were. In every department apart from finishing it really is hard to find fault with this performance, and that excellence is nothing new.

This was an 18th clean sheet in Tuchel’s 25th game in charge at Chelsea, a side utterly transformed since ditching a far-fetched fairytale appointment for the pragmatism of giving a prodigiously talented squad a proper manager to mould them into a properly effective football team.

Chelsea’s excellence was best personified in N’Golo Kante, who was prominently involved in both goals but more than that exemplified the gulf that existed on the night between the two sides in terms of class, composure and endeavour. Kante and Chelsea were quicker in thought and deed than Madrid.

put the early setback of being needlessly offside when scoring what he thought was a crucial opening goal to actually score the crucial opening goal just minutes later, the world jumping with him as he leapt to nod home an audacious Kai Havertz dink that had bounced up invitingly yet time-bending slowly off the crossbar.

Havertz hit the bar again in the second half with a towering header while Mount missed a glorious chance after being played in by Werner’s crafty flick at the end of a gorgeous Chelsea move.

Chelsea’s dominance was already total, yet somehow the introduction of Christian Pulisic made the game more one-sided still as he dazzled and shimmied on the right. He would eventually create the narrative-busting tie-sealing second goal for Mount after more fine work from Kante, but Real were a soundly beaten side by then. Chelsea made them look awfully old and desperately weary.

The sight of Eden Hazard smiling and laughing with his former Chelsea team-mates after his and his new team’s near total non-performance is sure to get a calm and reasonable reaction in Madrid, where this overall effort – – will go down like a cup of cold sick.

But the night belonged to Chelsea and to Tuchel, who returns to the Champions League final for a second straight year and provides yet further evidence that Chelsea really should change their manager in the middle of every season. It’ll be fascinating to see what he does to make such a change necessary next season.

Right now, that looks as unlikely as UEFA taking the sensible and obviously correct decision of moving an all-English Covid-era final from Istanbul to Wembley, or even to Villa Park for that proper retro FA Cup semi-final feel.

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Man Utd to play three times in five days as Liverpool game is rearranged

Man United will face Aston Villa, … The post Man Utd to play three times in five days as Liverpool game is rearranged appeared first on Football365.

Man Utd to play three times in five days as Liverpool game is rearranged

Man Utd v Liverpool has been rearranged as it will take next Thursday. This means that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will play three times in just five days.

Sunday’s clash between the bitter rivals was called off due to Man Utd fans’ anti-Glazer protest, which saw some supporters get into Old Trafford and onto the pitch.

That match has now been rearranged for May 13, which follows hot on the heels of the May 9 trip to Aston Villa and home match against third-placed Leicester on May 11.

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Man Utd have the small matter of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg at Roma to come first, with sure to be furious about the scheduling as a challenging season comes to a cluttered conclusion.

The club posted on their website: “Each of our three remaining Old Trafford dates, against Leicester City, Liverpool and Fulham, have been rearranged, with the first two affected by Sunday’s postponement.

“United v Liverpool will now be played at 20:15 BST on Thursday 13 May and, as intended originally, the game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

“The scheduling of that fixture means the visit of Leicester – already rearranged due to the Foxes’ involvement in the Emirates FA Cup final – has been put back 24 hours to Tuesday 11 May.”

Assuming Solskjaer’s men do not blow their 6-2 semi-final first leg advantage against Roma, they will be playing seven matches in 21 days – a period that will include trips to Italy and Poland.

Among those fixtures will be the return of fans to Old Trafford for the first time since March 2020.

The Premier League’s updated fixture schedule confirmed that ’s home match against Fulham will be among the first to host supporters when coronavirus restrictions are lifted on May 17.

Solskjaer’s side will host the Cottagers at 6pm the following day, when Southampton will kick-off at home to Leeds.

Up to 10,000 fans will be allowed into matches in round 37 on May 18 and 19 and in round 38 on May 23, provided the Government goes ahead with the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions.

The Premier League announced on Wednesday that away fans will be barred from attending the final two rounds of games.

“Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance,” a league statement read.

“The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.”

The Government is set to announce whether or not restrictions will be eased no later than May 10.

But the data is encouraging, with deaths at their lowest levels for seven months, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The league had been understood to be keen to open up the final two rounds to fans to avoid any issues around competition integrity.

The Premier League is yet to confirm what mitigations will be in place for those wishing to attend, with fans at last month’s Carabao Cup final required to provide proof of two negative coronavirus tests before entry to Wembley.

Liverpool were one of the first clubs to announce their plans for allocating tickets for the match against Crystal Palace on May 23.

The Reds statement only said fans were “encouraged” to take a Covid-19 test prior to attending.

The league is supportive of a Covid certification system, with its executive director Bill Bush having previously described it as “an acceptable burden” in order to get spectators back into venues in financially viable numbers.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters spoke in March about his ambition to have stadiums operating at full capacity next season.

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