Chelsea and Real Madrid will meet on 27 April in the semi-finals of the Champions League. The last time the two teams met in Europe was the 1998 Super Cup, in which I was lucky enough to score the goal that would win the cup for Chelsea.
My memories of the match
I remember that for the Chelsea team of 1998, it was an incredible opportunity to play a final against Real Madrid, as it was not often we had the chance to play against them.
The game was played with great caution, especially by the manager, who set the team up in two very defensive lines of 4, we played defensively so that with 20 or 30 minutes remaining, we would change our tactics and go for the win.
Before the game I was so annoyed, “recaliente” (‘fuming’) as we would say in Uruguay, because that morning the manager (Vialli) told me that I was not going to start the match. I couldn’t believe it.
I struggled to get my head around it, but I decided to show him that if he gave me 10, 20 or more minutes, it would be worth it. Luckily, that’s what happened, I played 20 minutes and scored the winning goal.
The goal in the 83rd minute
I remember that Zola and I counterattacked through the middle. After trying to thread a pass through to him that didn’t go as planned, I got to the deflection and managed to find him. Gianfranco took a shot which rebounded to his feet, and held the ball up for a while, until he saw me and gave me the perfect pass which meant I only had to concentrate on making a good connection and placing it out of reach of the ‘keeper. I could see that the ‘keeper had little chance of stopping it.
I celebrated by stretching my quadriceps because our fitness coach, Antonio Pintus, used to make us stretch a lot and it was a half joke but also an effort to show dedication to him.
The difference between Chelsea and Real Madrid
It was very different back then. Today it should be much more evenly matched. But even so, as you know, in football the supposedly weaker team can always end up winning.
I can see Real Madrid trying to control the game, and Chelsea’s input will really depend on how Tuchel decides to play. We have seen Chelsea control the ball and play attacking football in certain games, but also go very defensive in others. So Tuchel will have the final say.