Ramos and Hazard started the game at Stamford Bridge. The former had not played for more than 40 days and the latter left all his football at the ramshackle London stadium. Zidane was obliged to field the captain because he has never benched him when he was available. Hazard is playing because it was necessary to amortise his signing and put him in the shop window so that the stadium would not be left without a roof over its head. The Belgian is the same as he was in August 2020 against City, but with four more injuries along the way.
Real Madrid have given in to the accumulation of nonsense all season. A poor squad, lack of goals, muscular injuries, serious injuries, COVID, the Ramos soap opera, players out of shape... Some out of shame and others out of devotion to that shield have been pulling out the games. Kroos, Modric, Courtois, Benzema, Casemiro, Lucas Vázquez... have seen Isco, Marcelo and Ramos play differently. The reluctance of the first two and the permanent over-excitement of the Camero led him to play more than his physique could cope with.
Zidane's 'flower' didn't work in London. And it could have because the approach was, at least, interesting. Nacho covering Ramos in defence. Mendy on one flank and Militao on the other. Vinicius hiding in a corner and the rest of the team pulling the blanket up because Courtois' feet were already in charge of stopping everything they could. Which was a lot and miraculous. Vinicius finished the season in the first leg against Liverpool. He was never heard from again. One dribble in 90 minutes under the watchful eye of the Chelsea defender, who just had to cover him up a little. Modric is a work of art moving the ball. Benzema created space, but there was no striker to fill it. The Frenchman had the two best chances which forced Mendy into a great save.
The bench was moved in the 60th minute to make way for Asensio and Valverde. An hour into the game and a goal down, the French coach was forced to make two changes. Real Madrid were running out of steam without creating more chances than their opponents. Rodrygo and Mariano had little more to offer than fresh lungs to run around the pitch. Even Ramos didn't dare to get into the box to finish off balls in the 93rd minute. He doesn't trust his jump because his knee wasn't up to much. He knows that there is still a league final where Real Madrid cannot fail. But he also knows that his future is far from the club and his body must accompany him wherever he goes.
Zidane didn't know how to read the game. But that shouldn't surprise the fans. His tactics show more failures than passes. Although he is outstanding when it comes to getting in front of a player and getting the best out of him. Militao, Valverde, Lucas Vázquez, some Vinicius and a lot of Benzema have come face to face and understood what that shield means. The Frenchman has made the most of the remnants of what was once a trend in European football. In the Champions League semi-finals and with a serious chance of winning La Liga. Two facts that are once again whitewashing the walls of the Casa Blanca. The shortcomings are enormous, but Florentino Pérez finds it hard to see them. Many players live well on their contracts and know that the club cannot trade them. Signing stars is impossible for the Real Madrid of 2021. And the youth academy would need time and patience, but that ended the day the club was founded.
Sporting glories no longer roam Spain. Nor in Europe. Now they are written by Shakespeare. City and Chelsea will meet in the Champions League final in Istanbul. That of the fans. UEFA's.