Real Madrid's Ancelotti shares how he outwitted Chelsea boss Tuchel in first leg

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti explained how he utilised Federico Valverde to nullify Chelsea’s left side in Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win.

Karim Benzema stole the limelight with his hat-trick, but Real Madrid’s two other attackers; Valverde and Vinicius Jr. also caused a lot of problems for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Without Ben Chilwell, Blues manager Thomas Tuchel decided to start his captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who normally plays on the right, as a left wing-back.

If Tuchel’s 3-4-3 structure has a weakness, it is that it relies heavily on the two wing-backs to provide width to the team.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Ancelotti successfully exploited this.

Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“We played with the same system, but I put Valverde in to tighten up Chelsea’s left wing a bit,” the Italian said after the game (via Real Madrid’s official website).

“Valverde did really well.

“It all depended on Azpilicueta’s position. If he stayed back, Valverde moved forward.

“I talk to the players about football, I understand what they think and what they’d like. Then I’m the one who takes the decisions. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m not.”

Photo by Vincent Mignott/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Azpilicueta failed to register any cross or any key pass in the first half, and Tuchel was forced to change his plan in the second half.

The ineffective left wing was, obviously, far from being the only problem for the west London outfit.

They registered 20 shots throughout the match, from which only five were on target.

In comparison, Real Madrid also managed five shots on target from eight attempts. A clinical finisher of Benzema’s calibre was perhaps the biggest difference between the two sides.

Keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news and opinion by following The Chelsea Chronicle’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Gerry is a Chelsea supporter who has more than five years of experience in online publishing. He started out writing for Chelsea fan blogs during his high school years, before writing for several local sport news outlets. After graduating in NCTJ-accredited sports journalism MA at the University of Sunderland, he has worked as a freelance writer for The Chelsea Chronicle since 2020. He is a big fan of football statistics and strongly believes that sooner or later, the xG Gods always catch up. He is also a proud member of Michael Ballack fan club.