By Kevin Truong ’22
Among the eight teams that won the right to participate in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it is easy to recognize the fact that it is dominated by the representatives from Spain and England. Four teams from England won the right to the 18th round, only Manchester United was eliminated by an elite representative of Spain, Athletico Madrid. From that, the balance of the Spanish and English teams in the quarterfinals became even. Each side has three representatives and lucky draws have brought four of them together to create a quarter-final that is considered Super Attractive. Especially Chelsea vs Real Madrid, a fateful reunion.
Just a year ago, Real Madrid and Chelsea clashed in the knockout round of the Champions League when the young Royal team under Zinedine Zidane had a convincing loss against the representative of the London team. We all remember that the two semi-finals last year were an incredible performance by “superhuman” Kante, who had one of the best performances last year. He did not score or assist any goals in both games; however, he still made the show of his own World-class performance. His defensive and counter-attack play makes both Toni Kross and Luka Modric not too special on the field. This year, Kante is still a very important name for Chelsea, but this is a totally different challenge compared to last year for him and his teammates. This year, Real Madrid is still a young team but their youngsters have grown and improved tremendously. In the defensive position, Eder Militao improved a lot when he played with David Alaba. In the attacking position, Vini Junior has made the feelings of Real fans inhibited from last year’s performance into joy with his nonstop scoring performance. And of course, it is impossible not to mention great inspiration from veterans like Karim Benzema or Luka Modric. At the age of 36, Luka Modric is challenging his limits with great passes and movements. And Benzema has made people forget the old memories of Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu. Just last week, everyone admired that team for the comeback against PSG that the Royal team made.
The Royal Team has made Messi and Neymar become an “audience” of the game. Because of the outstanding play from each individual from Real Madrid, Messi and Neymar could not make a huge impact on the game. On the France side, only youngster Mbappe shines on the field, but only his effort could not make the team through the round of 16.
Right now, with all the confidence, the Royal Team of Spain is really determined to recover the debt for Chelsea. Even though Chelsea is still in good shape, it’s definitely clear that they can’t compare to themselves last year. Over the past few weeks, Chelsea still showed impressive bravery to overcome difficulties from Abramovich’s problems to the club these days. However, obviously, they’ll be placed on the weaker side right now if compared with Real Madrid. Now, The Blues will not only have to face their challenge in spirit, but they will also have to prove their strength and ability to lift the trophies again. Ancelotti will face his old team again in an elimination match of the Champions League, a pair confrontation that can be judged as the most attractive of the quarterfinals.