Real Madrid’s pursuit of a 15th European Cup continues. Meanwhile, Chelsea do not know when they will compete again on this elite stage. Madrid’s 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge completed a 4-0 aggregate win on Tuesday and saw the Spanish giants advance to the Champions League semi-finals for the 11th time in 13 seasons.
Rodrigo scored twice in the second half to derail a spirited Chelsea comeback that lasted an hour but ultimately ended in a fourth consecutive defeat under interim manager Frank Lampard. Madrid could continue their quest for more glory in a competition they have won a record 14 times, with Manchester City or Bayern Munich to draw in the next round.
Watch Rodrigo celebrate in Cristiano Ronaldo style after scoring against Chelsea…
“We are ready to be there and we are ready to fight for the final,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
City were leading Bayern 3–0 after the quarter-final first leg, setting up a possible rematch of last year’s semi-final. Madrid won twice in extra time and 6–5 on aggregate at the Bernabeu last season. Madrid are already the only team to have successfully defended the Champions League in its modern form – having won it three times in a row since 2016-18 – and are still in contention to win it consecutively.
It’s a record no other team can match – and with a forward line of Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo in such formidable form, the defending champions will have little to stop.
Chelsea’s miserable campaign, however, is now set to end without a trophy. Lampard left fielding questions about where the 2021 European champions go after a troubled start to life under new owners Todd Bohli and Clearlake Capital.
“People will rave about this season for Chelsea because we’ve had a lot of success,” Lampard said. “The reality is that this club is going to come back, but it will take work.”
Chelsea are 11th in the Premier League and 17 points off the top four despite spending around $630 million on new signings. The club, which won the Champions League twice under former owner Roman Abramovich, is now set to be knocked out of the competition next season.
With the intensity for the top four increasing in the light of a resurgent Arsenal, an improved Manchester United and a Saudi-backed Newcastle, Chelsea’s road back to European club football’s elite competition could not be straight forward. “At this moment to try to predict what will happen next, whether it will be good, whether it will be bad, I think it is very futile,” Lampard said. “But I think we can set the building blocks now to get where we want to go.”
Chelsea’s slide has been sudden. Just two years ago, the London club, under manager Thomas Tuchel, won the Champions League for the second time in its history.
The German manager, hugely popular with fans, was fired early in the season and replaced by Graham Potter, who suffered the same fate earlier this month. There has been no improvement in form since Lampard’s arrival, with his team scoring just once in their four defeats since his appointment.
The lack of a lead was again evident in the quarter-final second leg against Madrid as Chelsea squandered several chances. N’Golo Kante failed to convert clear openings in each half with the score still 0–0. And former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat a close-range effort from Mark Cukrella just before the break.
The home side had to pay for those lapses as Madrid struck twice on the break. Ancelotti admitted his team suffered “a lot” ahead of Rodrygo’s goals.
The Brazilian forward opened the scoring in the 58th minute, turning in a Vinicius cutback. He added a second in the 80th, this time after an assist from Federico Valverde. He might have had a hat-trick if not for a first-half effort that hit the outside of the post.
The home fans headed towards the exits after Rodrigo’s second goal crossed the line. But those who were given some reason for encouragement ended up applauding as Chelsea pushed Madrid for a large part of the match.