Chelsea welcome Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday still with much to do to reach the Champions League final after failing to land the killer blow when the 13-time European champions were on the ropes in last week’s first leg.
A 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital still gives the Blues the upper hand thanks to their away goal, but Thomas Tuchel’s men could have had a much more convincing advantage but for a tale of two strikers.
In a story of his first season at Chelsea, Timo Werner missed a glorious chance to put his side in front early as the outstretched leg of Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois denied his old club.
That miss even provoked criticism from the wife of Werner’s teammate Thiago Silva.
“Every team I go to there is a striker who keeps missing goals,” Isabelle da Silva posted in a since-deleted Instagram message.
At the other end, after Christian Pulisic had put Chelsea in front, Karim Benzema needed barely a half-chance to blast Real back on level terms for his 28th goal of the season and become the joint fourth-highest goalscorer in Champions League history.
Those are the sorts of numbers Chelsea expected when they paid Â£47 million ($65 million) for Werner last June at a time when other clubs, including Madrid, were scrambling to find the money just to pay their players as the coronavirus pandemic halted football across Europe.
Backed by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Chelsea were the club least deterred by the pandemic as they splashed out a total of Â£220 million in the transfer market last summer.
That expense has been rewarded by a return to the last four of the Champions League for the first time in seven years.
Yet, none of the attacking trio of new signings, Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech have consistently shown their best form.
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