Photo: David Luiz celebrates his goal against old club, Chelsea.
After securing a precious away goal at the Parc des Princes against fellow big spenders Paris-Saint Germain (PSG), Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were tipped to book their passage to the last eight in the return leg at Stamford Bridge. However, the Blues were totally outclassed by 10-men PSG led by 22 years old Marco Verratti in the midst of Chelsea’s mega stars Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and Oscar. The French champions were never really troubled in a ‘typical Chelsea big game strategy’ and were rewarded for their spirit and resilience on the night.
With star-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic controversially sent off on 31 minutes, the odds were badly stacked against Laurent Blanc’s men. However with the calming influence of Thiago Motta, the craft of Verratti, the share endeavour from Blaise Matuidi and the leadership of Thiago Silva they were able to dictate the tempo of the game nullifying the threat of Eden Hazard and co. The Blues were evidently set-up to sit back and try to hit on the break with the speed of Hazard and the power of Diego Costa. Even with an extra man the likes of Fabregas, Matic and Ramires were reluctant to push forward as they tried to remain organized and compact in defending their away goal.
With an abundance of technically gifted players and great attacking options, Jose Mourinho attempted to grind out a favourable result in another of his ‘Mourinho masterclass.’ The Blues are the masters of soaking up pressure and hitting on the break with devastating effect since the Special One returned to Stamford Bridge especially in the ‘big games.’ Mourinho plays an attacking style in the so-called ‘winnable games’ bullying the lesser teams with their undoubted quality right across the pitch. As the most equipped English team that could make it a far way in the Champions League, Yardie Sports takes a look at where Mourinho and his boys got it wrong.
Misfiring mind games
In his press conference leading up to the fixture, the 'Special One' referred to PSG as the most physical team he has encountered. Despite being second best in the first leg where they were lucky to escape with a draw, Mourinho showed no respect for the quality of the French champions style of play and was perhaps punished for trying to put pressure on the referee, pointing to the fact that he is expecting the officials to take note of the physcial approach from the PSG players.
However, he may have not been paying attention to his former player David Luiz who stated that he may be special to the British press but not to him. The ‘big hair’ Brazilian also pointed to the fact that he expected his former employers to sit tight and break on the counter but warned that against his current team it could be dangerous. The 27 years old defender made the most of his talk by finding the back of the net with a bullet header to send the match into extra time after Gary Cahill had given Chelsea the lead.
After enduring some unfortunate officiating decisions earlier in the season, the Portuguese coach stated that there was a ‘campaign’ against his club and his focus has not changed ever since.
Every coach has the right to stand up for their team but Mourinho whines and complains a bit too much. He is constantly in the ears of the fourth official and his animation on the sidelines to the referee’s decisions can be annoying to the officials. Paul Scholes had referred to Mourinho as not having the same effect as Sir Alex Ferguson putting pressure on the officials and that may be true. The legendary Scot picked his moments to approach the officials, instead of being in their ears, which surely has greater effects.
The managers attitude was transferred to the players and that was evident when they surrounded the referee when Ibrahimovic was sent off and the constant arguing and pleading at almost every decision. Diego Costa also failed to keep his focus on football as he got into way too many confrontations with the opposition. He is a tempestuous character and is always up for a battle but when it affects the quality of your play then surely there is a problem.
Lack of ambition
At first glance names such as Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian would strike the football world as a wealth of top quality attacking players. With those options there is great pace, creativity and goals which excites the fans. However with all this attacking flair at his disposal, Mourinho showed no real threat going forward consistently. Chelsea's muti-million dollar stars on the night appeared to have worth no more than a few 'quid' with the way they performed.
The reluctance to dominate the game and push forward much like they do in the Premier League was clear for all to see. This lack of ambition caused the Bridge to have an air of nervousness as the fans looked on in agony. Even after taking the lead twice, the Blues never deserved any luck or good fortune based on the poor approach in an attacking sense, as they showed no ambition to take the game to PSG especially infront of their own fans.
Lack of genuine identity
Roy Keane had raised the point earlier this season about the talk of this Chelsea team being 'great' when they have yet to win a trophy or even have an identity. With that said, is there a particular style of play that his associated with the way Chelsea plays consistently? Are they a team that goes about their business in a unique way or just a bunch of top quality individuals with whom the coach can be identified with?
Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly one of the best coaches around but his style is based on hard work and covering lots of ground. This can be identified with all his teams so is there anything that is really different with this Chelsea team? There is not an identifiable way in which his current Chelsea team plays as they are deployed with different strategies on a consistent basis. Arsenal is known for their smooth, slick pass and movement style at pace, Man United traditionally has their great play from wide positions and quickness in the final third while Barcelona uses the famous 'tiki-taka' and Ajax is associated with 'total football.' Against PSG Mourinho's men were found out, especially on this huge occasion when the threat of Hazard was nullified.
Feeling for the line/Poor concentration
With the advantage of an away goal and knowing that the Thiago Silva-led Parisians had to score, the Blues felt as if they had already crossed the line when Gary Cahill gave them the lead with 10 minutes to go. The way they celebrated and their body language after scoring showed that they felt as if the tie was well and truly over. Having not acknowledged that Edinson Cavani had kept them in pole position by the width of the post and the millimetres of its painting, John Terry and co may have been undone by Cahill's strike.
With a goal and a man advantage, the Blues dropped deeper allowing the French champions more possession and getting more players in their penalty area. David Luiz deservedly bit the hands that fed him for three-and-a-half years, with a bullet header sending the game into extra-time. The Blues again were feeling for the finish line when Hazard converted his penalty in extra-time and their celebrations were even more elaborate. Thiago Silva punished them for losing sight of the moment and thinking ahead with his well placed header that gave Thibaut Courtois no chance and ended their hopes of tasting European glory, for this season at least.
Conceding a goal of that nature especially with Silva being denied just moments before by Courtois was absolutely poor on the part of the Premier League leaders, whose concentration had dropped as they reached for the finish line instead of dealing with the matter at hand first.