Chelsea gave themselves a great chance to make the Champions League Final for the second time in three years with a resolute defensive performance against Spain’s team of the moment. The inevitable comparisons to that famous 2012 campaign will be drawn after Mourinho adopted a “break us if you can” approach to this Semi-final first leg.
I am sure Jose had a plan B if the Blues were to have conceded but it never came to that. For their part Madrid looked ordinary in the final third much to the frustration of the home crowd. It was ironically Athletico’s manager Simione who needed an alternative strategy aside from the long ball into the box, and he came up short.
It has been 40 years since Athletico reached the marquee European final and the pressure of that landmark seemed to get the better of them. Diego Costa, potentially a Chelsea target in the summer was easily contained by the Chelsea back line. So much so that he ended up resorting to bicycle kicks in an effort to shake off the attentions of Terry and Cahill. Not sure the Chelsea dressing room will be asking Roman to pay up just yet.
The bad news, unless you happen to be a scouser, is that Chelsea lost both Petr Cech with a 15th minute collar-bone injury & John Terry with a foot injury in the 73rd minute. Hopefully the Blues medical staff have stocked up on wunder spray and Pamela Jordan spends the next couple of days caressing JT’s big toe to great effect.
The Blues team sheet did little to disguise the upcoming strategy. Only Reg Varney was missing from our midfield. Luis, Lampard, Mikel, Willan & Ramires formed the moat. Torres had to adjust his watch as he was placed in a different time zone.
Ashely Cole got his first game since the last Champions League final, and all things considered did a superb job without putting a foot wrong all night. Azpilicueta must be one of the fittest players on the planet. Switching to his natural, although this season unaccustomed right back role, he didn’t stop sprinting around for the entire match.
Cahill and Terry were rock solid, as they have been all season. There was no way that Madrid were going to get the better of them by trying a long ball game. They have both seen that before on many occasions, normally versus a Second Division side in the 3rd round of the F.A Cup.
It was certainly a hard game to watch as a Blues Fan. There was always that feeling when you allow the opposition so much of the possession just outside your box, that it’s a question of not if but when will they score. As said Plan B wasnt required in the end.
The man of the match was David Luis again. His outings in Europe this season have been top class. I am not sure we should be so keen to let Barca come knocking. Unfortunately it will be tough to hold onto him as he has become a “special teams player” for us now, and I’m sure he feels he deserves better.
The referee also played a big part in tonight’s game. It was a very physical battle and could easily have got out of control. The mixture of Chelsea’s spoiling set up, plus some world-class time-wasting on our part could have seen Madrid lose the plot. Referee Erikson handed out appropriate cards to our boys and also didn’t overly punish the Althletico players when they threw the toys out the pram.
Our Midfield next Wednesday will be tough to pick. Frank Lampard & Obi Mikel both miss the game after getting yellow cards tonight. With Matic cup tied, we will probably see Luis and Ramires forming an attacking looking springboard. Maybe a blessing in disguise!
Mark Schwarzer also had a solid game. I’m sure there were a few butterflies when he was called up after only a few minutes of the game. Having been partly responsible for Mourinho losing his unbeaten home record on Saturday, Our Australian 41 year old didn’t want to be appearing on “America’s Funniest Away Video’s” a couple of days later. Instead he now holds the honour of being the oldest player in a Champions League Semi-Final, taking Ryan Gigg’s record away from him.
Although 0-0 is a fragile scoreline and we failed to get the away goal, It still gives Jose a great chance to reach yet another CL Final, and heaven forbid dare we dream, maybe become the first person to win it Three times with different clubs.
All thoughts now move to Sunday’s meeting at Anfield. We need a win there so fully expect to see the Bus left in the Depot for that game. Hopefully Hazard and Eto’o are both fit. Oscar, Willian(or Schurrle) fwill form the rest of the attacking formation . Can’t see Torres getting the chance of playing his two old sides in a week, and would have Ba up there if our Cameroonian poacher is not able to play.
Hopefully we Roger Rogers in front of the Kop.