The Frenchman made some changes during the break to help Los Blancos work their way back into the game
Some half-time tactical tinkering from Zinedine Zidane helped Real Madrid regain some initiative in their Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea.
Los Blancos were fortunate to go in level at the break after an opening 45 minutes largely dominated by the Premier League side, with Christian Pulisic’s opener cancelled out by a spectacular Karim Benzema strike.
The second period was much closer though neither team could find a winner, leaving the tie finely balanced going into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.
What did Zidane say?
Zidane set his team out with a high pressing 3-5-2 formation with Casemiro on top of Jorginho to try and limit Chelsea’s creativity.
However, Real pushed too far forward and Chelsea were able to escape the press too easily, allowing the pacey Mason Mount and Pulisic to break clear.
It was American Pulisic who opened the scoring, latching on to a long defence-splitting pass from Antonio Rudiger before rounding Thibaut Courtois and beating two men on the line.
Goal understands Zidane gave a short and focused speech at half-time, telling his players: “We can’t keep letting them run so easy.”
What did Zidane do to change tactics?
Zidane asked his players to play closer together and play safer passes to mitigate the threat of N’Golo Kante, who was regularly able to win back possession before releasing Mount or Pulisic on the counter.
They attempted to slow the game down and prevent Chelsea from playing at the pace they had done in the first half. Luka Modric also dropped deeper to take the ball off the central defenders and help maintain possession.
The result was a much less frenetic second half than the opening period, with few chances for either side.
Zidane was pleased with the improvement in his side’s performance after the break and believes that if they are more physical in second leg then they have what it takes to reach the final.