Last night’s tie between Real Madrid and Chelsea featured multiple standout stars, as two sides packed with world-class players delivered a Champions League classic.
While the headlines will go to the MOTM Luka Modric or Karim Benzema, for the Blues the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Mateo Kovacic and Timo Werner stood out.
Another Blues player who stamped his authority on the game was fullback Reece James.
Deployed in the RCB position as part of the back three, James was imperious on the night. He quickly brushed off a yellow card conceded in the nervy opening minutes and went on to dominate his flank.
The English international managed to lock up Vinicius Jr for almost the entirety of the game, and Los Blancos’ players were impressed as well.
Fans weren’t alone in enjoying the fascinating 1v1 battle between Vini Jr and Reece James, and the Brazilian winger himself recognized James’ excellent display. He did so publicly, via this comment on the fullback’s Instagram post, “Great game bro, good luck”.
Karim Benzema Swaps Shirt
Aside from the Brazilian, the man of the hour, Karim Benzema, was impressed as well. He showed his appreciation through a classy move, one which the young fullback will never forget.
The moment was spotted post-match, and as seen in this clip, the Frenchman approached James to ask him for his shirt. The pair then quickly exchange shirts, a moment which has gone viral since.
The show of mutual respect between the players was welcomed by fans online, and goes on to show that ‘class recognizes class’.
Cesc Fabregas Shouts Out Thomas Tuchel
Besides the praise for the players, manager Thomas Tuchel, too, was appreciated by many.
Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel have transformed into a true European elite. While last season’s Champions League triumph provided firm evidence for that statement, their game at Real Madrid last night furthered it. 3-1 down on aggregate, all the odds stacked against them, in front of 80,000 Madridistas, yet the miracle in Madrid was almost accomplished.
Chelsea produced a stellar comeback, masterminded by Tuchel’s tactical brilliance, before ultimately being thwarted by 2 moments of individual magic. Real Madrid showcased just why they’re known as the kings of the UCL, as they quelled Chelsea’s resurgence through 2 late goals.
Nevertheless, the Blues’ valiant display was applauded by many, with deserved plaudits heading their gaffers’ way.
Among those offering heavy praise for the German was former Blue Cesc Fabregas.
The Monaco midfielder took to his Twitter account and shared a message that almost every Chelsea supporter could relate to.
In a tweet that has now generated a whopping 169K interactions, he wrote, “Whatever happens. Chelsea FC are blessed with Thomas Tuchel. What a manager”.
Aside from winning major titles and transforming Chelsea’s playing style, the German has also wonderfully steadied the ship when turbulent tides have struck.
Be it during the controversy surrounding Romelu Lukaku’s interview or the ongoing ownership obscurity, Tuchel has made sure Chelsea continues to perform at the highest level. He has also shown excellent adaptability to specific games, despite operating with essentially the same squad as last season.
While Chelsea isn’t exactly out of the woods yet, as far as the sanctions are concerned, all signs point towards a bright future. And needless to say, Thomas Tuchel is the glue.