Football Features

“The Doctor Manhattan of West London” – Player ratings as ceaseless Chelsea held to 1-1 draw with miserable Real Madrid

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:23, 27 April 2021

In an interesting night of football, Chelsea and Real Madrid played out a 1-1 draw in their Champions League semi-final first-leg.

The Blues dominated the start of the game but true to form Real Madrid found their way back into the contest during a torrential downpour. The second-half was a stalemate as it ends all square ahead of the second-leg.

Here’s how the players rated at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano:

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 7 – A bit foolhardy on the Chelsea goal but also not protected by his team-mates at all. Played well besides that, including one stunning save from Werner.

Eder Militao – 8 – Absolutely brilliant. A one-man brick wall between Chelsea and the Madrid goal, making several open field tackles (7), interceptions (3) and blocks (1) just in the knick of time to prevent Chelsea getting great looks at goal.

Raphael Varane – 5 – Solid at the back for the most part. Struggled a bit with some of Chelsea’s movement but handled their crosses and passes well. Still, he didn’t step up to engage Pulisic on Chelsea’s goal and in the end the shot deflected in off him. A fatal error.

Nacho – 4 – Absolutely awful defending for Chelsea’s goal, retreating to the goal-line instead of sticking with Pulisic (who ran across the face of the Spaniard in the lead-up too). Nacho’s decision forced Courtois to step up and engage and basically made the goal inevitable.

Dani Carvajal – 5 – A total non-entity. Clearly nowhere near fit.

Luka Modric – 5 – The Croatian was not at his best as he struggled to deal with the relentless physicality of Chelsea’s play.

Casemiro – 5 – Energetic and driven as always but for once it was to almost no effect.

Toni Kroos – 6 – Just could not get into the game. Chelsea’s organised press completely prevented him from unleashing his usual array of passes. Worked hard defensively, at the very least.

Marcelo – 5 – A spent force. Sad.

Vinicius Junior – 5 – Not at his best as Chelsea’s defensive structure and pressure on the passers basically neutered any chance he had of impacting this game the way he did the Liverpool one.

Karim Benzema – 8 – Absolutely brilliant. A one-man-army for Real Madrid up-top, doing everything he could do in order to drag Madrid into the game. Forced great saves from Edouard Mendy, hit the woodwork, and scored Madrid’s equaliser with a simply stunning strike. If Real Madrid have any hope in this tie, it is a hope firmly attached to Karim Benzema.


Eden Hazard (for Vinicius 66′) – 5 – One nice reverse pass was all he contributed.

Alvaro Odriozola (for Carvajal 77′) – 5 – Did little

Marco Asensio (for Marcelo 77′) – 5 – Did nothing.

Rodrygo (for Benzema 90’+2) – n/a – Came on late.

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Edouard Mendy – 7 – Some big saves and confident handling in tricky conditions.

Andreas Christensen – 8 – Team highs for clearances (3) and interceptions (3) as he patrolled his channel very well, preventing Madrid from using it as they had against Liverpool.

Thiago Silva – 7 Cool, calm and in control.

Antonio Rudiger – 8 – An impassable presence yet again for Chelsea. Moreover it was his beautiful ball behind the Madrid defence that led to Chelsea’s away goal.

Cesar Azpilicueta – 7 – Worked hard, engaged Vinicius on his terms not the Brazilians. Simply solid as always.

N’Golo Kanté – 9 – An absolute whirlwind, a ceaseless force that devastated the middle of the pitch. This was phenomenal football from Chelsea’s French midfielder. Kanté was everywhere at once, the Doctor Manhattan of West London. No matter what Madrid tried to do he was there to apply pressure and force them into mistakes. Then when he had the ball he broke lines with incredible ease, constantly surging at the Madrid defence and creating havoc with his presence. No one in the world can do what N’Golo Kanté does as good as he does it. No one. He is a singularly miraculous talent.

Jorginho – 7 – Continued to be excellent at the base of midfield.

Ben Chilwell – 7 – Very solid up and down the left-flank. Could have produced some better balls but played well.

Mason Mount – 7 – Worked relentlessly in midfield, helping out his team-mates but also breaking forward into attack when he had to. Wet on a superb mazy run in the first-half too, in a run that should have led to a goal.

Christian Pulisic – 8 – A lovely header down should have given him an early assist but Werner’s miss stopped that. But Pulisic was not to be deterred and so when the American was played in behind he cut back and took advantage of some shocking Madrid defending to dance around Courtois and smash it home.

Timo Werner – 5 – Great runs, as always. Bad finishing, as always.


Hakim Ziyech (for Pulisic 66′) – 6 – Came on late and produced a stunning cross that a more active striker would have turned into a goal.

Kai Havertz (for Werner 66′) – 5 – Some nice touches but should have scored when Ziyech flashed the ball across the box.

Reece James (for Azpilicueta 67′) – 6 – Defended excellently.