PETE JENSON: Chelsea are seen as easy pickings in Spain as their papers claim ‘Invincibles’ Real Madrid can ‘smell the Champions League final’ despite Thomas Tuchel’s revival job – and there aren’t ANY fears about Timo Werner and Kai Havertz
- There were genuine fears Liverpool’s front three could rip Real Madrid apart
- Spanish press are less concerned about Chelsea’s Timo Werner and Kai Havertz
- Thomas Tuchel is respected in Madrid and has been praised for the job he’s done
- But the popular opinion in Spain is that Chelsea will be no match for Madrid
‘Chelsea are already trembling’ ran one Marca headline on Thursday after Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid team reached the semi-finals.
‘When Madrid can start to smell the final, their rivals should be praying to all the saints’ the triumphal column continued.
But not all the coverage looking ahead to the two teams’ first ever meeting in the Champions League was quite as bombastic.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea are seen as huge underdogs against Real Madrid by Spanish press
Madrid booked Champions League semi-final date with Chelsea by knocking out Liverpool
Elsewhere Real Madrid pundits and fans were torn between believing they have one foot in the final after seeing off Liverpool, and being wary of underestimating Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in the semis.
‘Tuchel has revived Chelsea’ was the headline in Diario AS and there was praise for the way ‘Chelsea are capable of controlling the game without monopolizing possession’.
It was also pointed out that they have only let in five goals in 18 games ‘under the German coach’.
AS wrote about the ‘three towers’ in the centre of Chelsea’s defence’ with Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger in front of Edouard Mendy making the team’s rearguard one of ‘reinforced concrete’.
Spanish press are very confident with one column in Marca newspaper (right) claiming Madrid can already ‘smell the final’ while AS labelled Zinedine Zidane’s men ‘Invincibles’
Tuchel is respected in Madrid and has been praised by the press for job he’s doing at Chelsea
There was also praise for Reece James and Ben Chilwell down the flanks and the midfield protection offered by former Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante.
But even in the more restrained coverage of Madrid’s passage to the semi-finals the feeling was one of supreme confidence based on their own history in the competition and on some doubts over the quality of Chelsea’s attack.
‘Fourteen European Cups between the four semi-finalists,’ tweeted one Madrid journalist. She deliberately left out the punchline that 13 of them are Madrid’s. But the message was clear enough.
Chelsea are seen as deserving of some respect for having gone the distance before – it’s only once but that’s once more than Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain. And as Diario AS’s resident Madrid-supporting pundit Tomas Roncero wrote: ‘With humility we have to play the Blues.’
The view in Spain is that Antonio Rudiger (left), Cesar Azpilicuta and Thiago Silva (right) are solid defenders who could make it difficult for Madrid
There had been genuine fears that Mohamed Salah and Co could do damage to Madrid
But this is the team that has dominated the European Cup from the fifties, sixties, nineties and most of this century, against a side that have won the competition once. In terms of pedigree in the competition Chelsea inspire less awe than Liverpool.
And they are seen as weakest where they have spent the most money. There was genuine fear of what Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino might do to Madrid in the quarter-finals. There is less concern over what big-money arrivals such as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz can do. Although again AS added: ‘Tuchel could yet give them wings’.
The German coach is well respected in Madrid. They want to believe they are already in Istanbul but it’s Thomas that has them doubting.
‘The team was in free-fall’ said AS. ‘Now they are on the fringes of the top four with games against three of them still to come.’
The Spanish press are a lot less concerned about Timo Werner (left) and Kai Havertz (right)
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