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Player Ratings: Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea | Champions League



(Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

Chelsea have it all to do after falling behind 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League tie with holders Real Madrid.

It was always going to be a tall order for Frank Lampard’s men against the reigning champions in the daunting cauldron of the Santiago Bernabeu, particularly given their recent poor form.

Los Blancos drew first blood in the 21st minute when talisman Karim Benzema was first to react to a fingertip Kepa Arrizabalaga stop. A world-class stop from former Chelsea ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois denied Raheem Sterling just minutes later, before a goalline clearance from Thiago Silva was necessary to keep the deficit to one.

The half-time whistle was a bit of a mercy for the Pensioners, as the hosts had them on the ropes for an elongated period going into the interval. A bright enough start aside, the visitors had come under serious suppression in the Spanish capital.

Any hope of getting back on terms faded away pretty rapidly when Ben Chilwell was shown the red card as the last man in minute 59. From there it was damage limitation, but the damage was done when Chelsea were caught cold from a corner routine and Marco Asensio had the luxury of open space to slot past Kepa from distance.

In the final analysis this was really disappointing from the travelling outfit, who showed little fight and didn’t seem up for the occasion. With that in mind, a 2 goal deficit is about as best they could have hoped for before the return leg at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday. In the interim, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performances against Real Madrid on the evening.

Kepa Arrizabalaga – 4/10

The difference between a world-class goalkeeper and one you just can’t quite depend on in the biggest moments was laid bare in a matter of mere minutes midway through the first-half. The Spaniard seemed to move in slow motion to get down to Vinicius Jr’s hooked effort, and a meek stop fell right into the path of the lethal Benzema. At the other end, Courtois would make an unbelievable save at his near post with lightning reflexes. That was a stark difference-maker, and he was suspect for the second also given it wasn’t exactly nestled into the corner.

Wesley Fofana – 5/10

An early yellow card set the pattern for the evening. For a large period the Frenchman kept Vini Jr at bay, but as the first half wore on the floodgates opened. In truth, his task was made all the more difficult given the sheer lack of defensive support he was being given by his colleague on the right flank. Taken in that context, this was an ok performance on balance. But under the bright lights of the Bernabeu, this was exposure to the ruthless reality of continental competition.

Thiago Silva – 7/10 (75)

While seemingly all around him lost their heads, the Brazilian returned to the fray and picked up where he left off. Didn’t really put a foot wrong with his calm, composed demeanour and chipped in with a few vital late blocks.

Kalidou Koulibaly – 7/10 (54)

Quietly had a very good game in what was a composed and disciplined display from the Senegalese giant. Imposing in the air and impressive with his aggressive, front-footed defending. Showed supreme pace to win a footrace at one point with Rodrygo, too, lamentably paying the ultimate price through his withdrawal.

Reece James – 3/10

On the biggest stage, this was unconventionally poor from the usually dependable Englishman. Offered very little defensively and when he attempted to he was bypassed with ease. Vini Jr had him on strings, to be frank, and he had a poor attitude all night. Going forward there were a couple of moments where he threatened to burst into life, but he came up short. A good chance supplied for Sterling aside, this was disappointing from a player who doesn’t seem to have returned to full fitness after spells on the sidelines through injury.

Mateo Kovacic – 4/10

With the greatest of respect, it is difficult to identify what the Croatian offered on the night. Static in a flat midfield and devoid of all inspiration when he had the ball to feet in the offensive third. Not a great showing against his former club.

Enzo Fernández – 5/10

The Argentine’s vision and sweeping passes were on display and represented some of Chelsea’s only genuine moments of quality. Roughed up a bit by the runners in the Madrid midfield and that was contributory in the Blues midfield being completely overrun.

N’Golo Kanté – 6/10 (75)

His experience and sheer coverage of ground was vital in digging in, particularly after the second goal went in. Started the first half off well, too, but in reality there was little going on in front of the Frenchman to work with.

Ben Chilwell – 2/10

Completely pinned back by the persistent duo of Rodrygo and Federico Valverde, who afforded him no room to breathe with their terrier like pressing. As such he was, it is fair to say, a weak link in trying to play out from the back. It also meant he was unable to take up the dangerous positions Blues fans have come to expect of him further forward. Questionable decision-making – or sheer stupidity, depending on how kind of an assessment you make – left referee no choice but to show the red card. Shocking all around.

Raheem Sterling – 4/10 (65)

Worked pretty hard with limited support up front, yet his ball-carrying and dribbling – hardly his strongest forte on the best of days – was just not of the requisite standard for someone operating in a split two.

João Félix – 4/10 (65)

Some nice ideas here and there but he was effectively bullied out of the game by the Los Vikingos defensive unit. Too lightweight for someone spearheading the attack. Starved of supply and couldn’t do anything of any potency with what he did have.


Marc Cucurella – 4/10 (54)

Only took five minutes to make an impact, and it was a negative one – to the surprise of no one. Fell asleep and lost his runner, playing a role in the red card which killed Chelsea’s aspirations for the night.

Kai Havertz – 5/10 (65)

Did his bit in holding up the play when it was needed given the circumstances and context of the game. Also nibbled away at La Casa Blanca’s defenders and irritated them.

Trevoh Chalobah – 6/10 (65)

In difficult circumstances he came in and was competent – certainly more so than a Spanish substitute comparably.

Mason Mount – N/A (75)

Conor Gallagher – N/A (75)