The first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final clash between Real Madrid and Chelsea ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Spanish hosts being overwhelmed by the pace and energy of the visitors.

Real Madrid were hoping to come away from their home leg with a big advantage, but instead ended up conceding a crucial away goal. The opening 15 minutes were frantic, with Chelsea very clearly the more dominant side.

The Blues were aggressive from kickoff, and a visibly tired Real Madrid squad struggled to keep up. It was very clear that the Premier League side had an impending goal especially after Timo Werner shot straight at Thibaut Courtois in an early attack. Christian Pulisic gave them the lead in just under 15 minutes, and Real Madrid was forced to wake up.

After the goal, Chelsea was unable to keep the same momentum, and Karim Benzema found the back of the net by expertly smashing the ball past a stunned Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea's pace dropped off eventually, and the 13-time European Champions were finally able to keep possession for reasonable periods. It was a very physical encounter, with the referee allowing a decent amount of contact on both ends. A total of six yellow cards were shown, five for the Spanish side.

The hosts were still without captain Sergio Ramos, but fans were delighted to see him cheering from the stands of the Alfredo di Stefano stadium. His presence indicates that while he is still recovering from a muscular injury, he has already been cleared of COVID-19.

Real Madrid will be relieved to have escaped a loss, and Chelsea will be delighted to have scored a crucial away goal. At the same time, Thomas Tuchel's side will be disappointed to be coming home with just a draw, considering how much they dominated the start of the match.

Real Madrid is not a side to be written off, especially in the late stages of the Champions League. Zidane has promised to manage the minutes of his players, in order to be ready for the return leg in Stamford Bridge next week.

Florentino Perez
Real Madrid have won 13 European Cups, 12 more than the other Champions League semi-finalists combined AFP / JAVIER SORIANO