The best result of the opening night of this season’s champions league goes to . . . Chelsea FC! We got the win we wanted. With Valencia drawing with Genk, it sounds even better. Didn’t get to see the match because TenSports in India chose to show the Dortmund match. I did get a good stream but not good enough for me to write match reactions based on that. But still let me give it a shot.
Torres: The man’s taken more flak than an unsuccessful England manager. I feel very sorry for him. He is such a great striker and a proven success in the premier league but still gets questioned on his ability. Sad. I still believe that our team has to take a lot of blame for his lack of goals. Tonight, he didn’t score any goals though he could have got a hattrick with a little bit of confidence or luck. But he did make the assists for both the goals. Especially for the second goal, he could have had a shot on goal but very unselfishly, he passed to Mata who scored. If Malouda were in Torres’ position and if Torres were in Mata’s position, 10 out 10 times, Malouda would have shot. But Torres, despite his goal drought and public criticism, passed it to Mata. Hats off man!
Mata: Telling contribution in every single match he has played so far. He’s such a joy to watch. He and Torres connected very well. He was able to find Torres or involve Torres more than the whole Chelsea team could do over the last few months.
Bosingwa v2: It’s official. AVB has truly transformed Bosingwa. There’s something about him now. He’s more useful, more clever and surely more productive than before. Long may his form continue.
Malouda v2?: I thought Malouda’s performance tonight was very different from his usual ones. He seemed to play more of a team man than before. He was looking for options, helping his team mates, getting more involved in team plays and all that. He even found Torres on a few occasions. Not sure if this was because he was playing in the left midfield and not as a forward player. Or probably, AVB is weaving his magic on Malouda? I hope he is, because I like this version of Malouda the most.
Mikel: Did his job to perfection. Broke up attacks, made tackles, held the ball well and most importantly didn’t contend to just sideway passes of 2 metres. He was moving very well in the middle third without being hyper-conscious about having to come back to his position. He might have more to offer. Will he realise his potential under AVB?
That dribble from David Luiz: Take a bow, son! This is why you need Brazilian defenders in your team. His dribble, 1-2s and the finish would make some top forwards in the business very proud.
Tempo: Another high tempo performance by Chelsea. We were playing in really high tempo – on and off the ball. We played with such urgency that you might think that we were chasing the game with 5 mins on the clock. I like this approach. It was almost like taking offence to Torres’ (misquoted?) interview. The painful ‘slowness’ in our game is slowly going away and that can only be a good thing. And our passing and movement were really really good.
Bayer Leverkusen: They gave us a good game. They made the game very open and entertaining. They were in it until the last moments but they lacked quality to take advantage of some opportunities. Good luck to them with the group stage matches.
Michael Ballack: Wow! What a sight to see the German captain back at Stamford Bridge. He would always remain as one of my favourite footballers. I thought he was superb at Chelsea. He was a great team man, playing in different roles and positions, and even playing second fiddle despite being one of the biggest superstars in world football, much bigger than almost all of his Chelsea colleagues. My lasting image of Ballack would be his hounding of Ovrebo. When I saw him tonight at the Bridge, I couldn’t forget that robbery of a match.
Tonight he got a very good reception at the Bridge also a standing ovation as he was subbed off. We even showed our respect to the big man by scoring our goal after he got subbed. Before the match, Chelsea FC also presented him with a commemorative gift. Good luck to Ballack and I’d support Bayer Leverkusen to reach the next round, just for him.
Defence: Our indecision in defence continues. They have not proved costly yet. Such indecisive defending against Man Utd would just punish us. Something has changed in our defence. It simply is not rock solid anymore. Personally, my confidence level in our defence has come down.
Doubts about team selection: AVB rested Terry, Lampard and Anelka. He played Torres for all 90 minutes. Makes me wonder if Anelka would start over Torres against Man Utd this Sunday. If that’s the idea, it is bad. We need to play Man Utd with the same tempo as we played tonight. But I get a feeing that we might go for a slower set up.
TenSports: The channel that telecasts champions league football in India didn’t show the Chelsea game live. Out of the teams that played tonight, there were two champions league favourites – Barca and Chelsea. The Barca game was showed and the Chelsea game was not. Very sad and very wrong.
It’s good sign if you’re not able to choose the man of the match because there are too many candidates – I could pick any one of these players – Malouda, Torres, Mata, Luiz or Sturridge. I think I might go with David Luiz. At the 67th minute, the game was very open. For David Luiz to make that run and exchange passes and finish with style to open the lead was something special and was the turning point of the match. He took charge of the situation and got us the lead. He would be a deserving man of the match tonight.
Very good result. Happy to start off with a win and end the night with the best result of matchday one in this season’s champions league. No fresh injuries, decent pitch time for the new signings and four full days between tonight and the Old Trafford game. I think we’re settling down very nicely. When we really peak, we’re gonna be very dangerous.
For now, let’s enjoy this win. Later during the week, we start talking about the Old Trafford match. And probably, also talk about the demos of PES 2012 and FIFA 12. All right then, See you later!