It was an evening to forget for Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid, as they crashed out of the Champions League to Chelsea. A 3-1 aggregate result for Thomas Tuchel's Blues now sees them featuring in their first UEFA Champions League final in 10 years.
For Zidane, his reluctance to deploy his preferred 4-3-3 formation proved costly in a night that could have seen his side in May's Champions League final.
The 4-3-3 set up proved victorious for his side against Liverpool and in multiple league games this season and could have seen his side's fortune change tonight if deployed.
Madrid lacked the urgency to run at Chelsea's defence and stretch the Blues in behind. The expected goals department saw Madrid xG total 0.45, whereas Tuchel's Chelsea managed an xG of 3.56.
Los Blancos's poor attacking impetus showed from the very start. Vinicius Junior featured in an unfamiliar right-wing back role, as opposed to his preferred role as a winger and Eden Hazard’s role in a front two saw him highly ineffective tonight.
The Belgium international return to the starting eleven saw him fail to haunt his former side. A roaming role occupied by Hazard left Madrid's number nine Karim Benzema isolated at times against Chelsea's well-structured back three and holding midfielder in Jorginho.
However, the same could not be said for Madrid back five in Sergio Ramos, Eder Militao, Nacho, Vinicius Junior and Ferland Mendy, as they failed to match the host's defensive acumen.
Zidane's complicated 3-4-1-2 set-up saw his side open up defensively while also retreating backwards in the attack.
Chelsea's attackers managed to split through Madrid's defensive multiple times with their counter-attacking ability and found themselves with numerous chances to extend their advantage.
Zidane's post-match comments after the game saw him stand by his tactical decisions.
“The formation? I do not regret anything. The players that started were prepared." Zidane told UEFA.
“Playing with 3 at the back? We played with it a couple of times. Today's game did not go as planned and we lost a lot of duels. We were lacking something."
The Frenchman further spoke on his side's attacking display and conveyed his thoughts on Vinicius Junior's defensive role.
“We lacked prowess in the attack. We had a lot of chances in the first half, but we didn't take advantage of them."
"Vinicius? He played in a new position. I tried changing it but things got complicated. Despite full-back not being the main position of Vinicius Jr, he did a good job."
After playing in two consecutive fixtures for Madrid. Zidane spoke on Hazard's contribution to the side, and patiently believes he will be back to his best.
“Hazard? He needs continuity. He has to play to regain his confidence. This is only his second consecutive game, step by step he will reach his highest level again." Zidane stated.
If administered, the 4-3-3 could have allowed Madrid to push higher up to create much more chances, while having the defensive shield of a back four. But tonight's tie saw Los Blancos dominate possession but fail to make Chelsea pay.
For Madrid now, a hotted-up La Liga title run-in awaits. The upcoming busy schedule sees them host Sevilla on Sunday - hoping to get back to winning ways after crashing out of Europe this evening.