Tuesday, 20 November 2012

New look Chelsea missing their old guard

This was about as poor a performance from a defending European Champion side as one could wish to see. Juventus swept aside Chelsea, who were fragile as glass in defence and played for 71 minutes without a striker.

Yet it was not the same team that brought them the European Cup. Chelsea were unfortunate to be missing John Terry and Frank Lampard through injury but their failure to replace Didier Drogba is a consequence of their demanding chairman's desire to see his team play attractive football.

Roman Abramovic poured huge sums of money into acquiring the hottest, most exotic attacking midfielders, and neglected the forward department. He led Chelsea into the 2012/13 season with just two strikers: an out of sorts Fernando Torres and rough around the edges Daniel Sturridge.

The lack of faith in Torres was handed a spotlight against Juventus, the £50m man who has returned 11 goals from 58 league starts, as Chelsea fielded six midfielders at his expense.

It felt forced. Light years away from emulating Spain's masterclass in the Euro 2012 final. 

Their opposition, Juventus, also suffer from a case of non-scoring strikers. The difference, though, is Juve are willing to play theirs. While Mirko Vučinić may not be clinical, he drops into midfield and links their play well. Importantly, they are a complete team. 

This was a walk in the park for Juventus as, for all their newfound flair, Chelsea are missing the spine of the team that won them the Champions League.

Chelsea must now win against Nordsjaelland and rely on Shakhtar Donetsk to beat Juventus if they are to avoid becoming the first European Champions to exit at the group stage. It would be an embarrassing outcome for one of the competition's most successful sides of the past decade.

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