A Rodrygo brace at Stamford Bridge helped Real Madrid set up a date with either Manchester City or Bayern Munich in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League. It was a hard-fought encounter, but in the end it was Carlo Ancelotti’s dressing room that celebrated qualification.
The only goal-scorer of the night, Rodrygo, gave an interview after the final whistle. He began with a statement on what the Champions League meant to him and why it was so special for him to score on such a big occasion.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but I always say it’s a really special competition for me. Whenever I’ve played I’ve always managed to do something to help my team. I’m so happy, I hope I can keep going like this, scoring more goals, providing more assists and winning the Champions League again,” he said.
Rodrygo admitted that the pressure to progress deep into the European competition was eternal at Real Madrid and added a note on the sheer prestige just wearing the club’s white colours and crest brought with it.
“It’s a pleasure to be playing for Real Madrid, the greatest team in the world, and we know that we’re practically obliged to reach the semi-finals, the final and win the Champions League. Since we got here, we’ve had that in our heads,” he stated.
“We have to produce very good performances and I think we’re doing that. Since I’ve been playing here we’ve come a long way in this competition and I hope we can continue like this.”
The youngster also spoke about Thibaut Courtois’s fabulous save in the dying minutes of the first half and the road ahead.
“They could’ve made it 1-0 in the first half, but Courtois was there to bail us out. I’m delighted with my brace and eager to keep up this pace. Now it’s time for us to think about the semi-finals,” Rodrygo added.
Eder Militao will be unavailable for the first leg of the semifinal in the UCL through an accumulation of bookings. Talking about the impact of the Brazilian’s absence in such a big game, Rodrygo said:
“Militão won’t play, but we have other very good players who can stand in for him. The Champions League is very tough. We can’t choose our opponents and we have to be ready for anything.”
Finally, he ended his conversation with a jovial description of the thoughts that went through his head while selecting a celebration on the night.
“I thought about sliding on my knees, but I have a slight swelling so I couldn’t. Then Cristiano, who is my idol, popped into my head and that’s how it came out.”
Courtois happy with clean sheet on Chelsea return
Thibaut Courtois was another star of the night who took out time to address the media and first brought to light how important the defence was in the first half. He also spoke about the course the game took later in the night.
“I’m really pleased. The match was intense for me and managing to win with a clean sheet is always a good thing. The first half wasn’t the best, but we corrected things at half-time. We improved in the second half and scored two important goals,” he said.
“They could’ve got back into the game, the fans were behind them. They were looking for that goal to bring them hope and fortunately, Rodrygo scored.”
Commenting on his save from Marc Cucurella’s shot that is largely being spoken of as a game-defining moment, the Belgian took one through the situation from his eyes, saying:
“The save I made came from a low cross across the face of the goal. Someone tried to shoot, I fell a bit and I saw that the ball fell to Cucurella. I tried to jump and make myself big, throwing my body to the left to try and cover the far post and the front post with my feet. I’m very pleased with the save.”
Eder Militao has been a formidable partner for Courtois in protecting the Merengues’ goal this season but will not be available for the next game. On the central defender’s booking, Courtois said:
“It was unlucky, Havertz just lifted the ball and Militão didn’t get to it. We have to have faith in the whole squad and I’m sure we can fight against City or Bayern.
“We’re going to try to do the same as last year, we have to believe. We’re on a good run, we have complete confidence that we can do it again and reach the final.”
It has become the norm for Real Madrid to reach the semifinal year after year as they have done so in 11 of the last 13 editions. Yet, Courtois insisted that the teams’ accomplishment should not be taken for granted as it requires immense quality to even get this far, as he said:
“It’s not easy to reach the semi-finals. For the last 13 years, Madrid have made it to many. We’re delighted to reach a semi-final. It’s not easy, but once you’re there, if you lose, it doesn’t mean much. We have the aim of winning, but we take it one game at a time.”
Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid’s starting left-back, also spoke to the press after the game, and said:
“The team played well. The first half was tough because Chelsea are also a good team, but we’re a great team, and the second half was easier and we managed to score two goals.
“We’re Real Madrid and when we’re in a tough game we all work as we always do and we managed to progress.”
Source: Real Madrid Website
Brahim, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could lineup against Sevilla
Real Madrid are set to play hosts to Sevilla this evening, in what could prove to be a critical match in the context of the title race.
Although Los Blancos hold a formidable lead at the top of the table, the club are coming on the back of a disappointing result against Rayo Vallecano.
Dropping more points against Sevilla tonight could prove to be costly, especially with Barcelona and Girona breathing down their necks.
Potential Real Madrid lineup vs Sevilla
As Real Madrid approach this crucial game, coach Carlo Ancelotti has to make several arrangements, especially with so many players ruled out either due to injury or suspension.
Starting from the goalkeeper position, Thibaut Courtois remains out, which means Andriy Lunin should continue in between the sticks, ahead of the unhappy Kepa Arrizabalaga.
In the right-back position, Ancelotti is likely to opt for Lucas Vazquez, as Dani Carvajal is suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the last game.
On a bright note, though, Antonio Rudiger is back and should return to central defence. He will be accompanied by Nacho Fernandez at the heart of Real Madrid’s four-man backline.
Elsewhere in defence, Ferland Mendy should continue to start ahead of Fran Garcia in the left-back position.
Moving into midfield, Eduardo Camavinga has been ruled out due to suspension. However, Ancelotti does have a myriad of options in the middle of the park.
Aurelien Tchouameni should continue to operate in the number six position, just behind the two interior midfielders Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde.
Luka Modric is an option on the bench, should Ancelotti require more experience in the middle.
As for the attack, the Real Madrid frontline should be led by Brahim Diaz once again, even though he faces fierce competition from Joselu.
Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, on the other hand, are guaranteed choices in the wide attacking spaces, though Ancelotti does have Arda Guler and Alvaro Rodriguez as potential alternatives.