640 million euros. Chelsea FC spent an estimated amount of money on the 15 players who were knocked out of the Champions League against Real Madrid in their own stadium. 2-0 in the second leg, 2-0 in the first leg: In this quarter-final, the Londoners, who were keen on shopping, once again had the experience that they, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain already knew from last season.
A club with almost unlimited financial possibilities is trying everything to make it onto Europe's football throne. And then learn along the way that you can't buy exactly the experience, serenity and perfect coordination that Real Madrid have over all other teams anywhere.
For the 11th time in 13 years, the record winner of the Champions League is in the semi-finals of this competition. The Spaniards have won the title five times in the past nine years alone. The protagonists in April 2023 are still the same as in 2016, 2017 or 2018: center forward Karim Benzema (36), midfielder Luka Modric (37) - and his congenial German partner Toni Kroos (33).
Kroos knows Real's secret of success
"When the likes of Karim Benzema, Modric and Kroos are calm - why should we be nervous?" said Germany international Antonio Rudiger after the Chelsea game of the impact this experienced trio is having on the rest of the team.
Kroos himself explained Real's secret of success on "Prime Video" as follows: "Overall, we have a team that has experienced a little something together, that has had to suffer a lot in many games. If you survive such phases and often still emerge as winners, then in these games that gives you the peace and the belief that you can pull it off in the end."
At the age of 33, the 2014 world champion is still delivering so consistently at this level that he wasn't just asked about the Champions League in London. Specifically, the interview was about how long Kroos would stay at Real and whether he could not imagine a comeback in the German national team a year before the European Championship in his own country.
The native of Greifswald dealt with both topics as straightforwardly as he played. The extension of his expiring contract in Madrid has long been discussed internally, but has not yet been officially announced. "In theory, I can sign somewhere else since January 1st, but we didn't even start this nonsense," said Kroos. There is "a great relationship of trust between him and Real. And that will most likely continue for a while".
Kroos rules out DFB comeback
And the national team? "When a North German makes such a decision, it's set in stone," said Kroos. He cannot imagine resigning from the resignation.
Just as one of Real Madrid's many success factors in the Champions League is to focus primarily on this one most important competition every year. Real is currently eleven points behind FC Barcelona in the Spanish championship. And Benzema (France) and Dani Carvajal (Spain) don't play at all or hardly any more in their national teams.
When it comes to continuity and building a successful team, Chelsea can learn a lot from the Spaniards. In winter alone, eight new players came for more than 300 million euros. That can't work, even according to veteran Chelsea player Thiago Silva. "We have to stop doing that and come up with a strategy. Otherwise we'll make the same mistakes next season," said the Brazilian after losing to Real.