...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
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Not Much Sympathy
Is it fair to say that Chelsea's plan b is not very good?
Yum yum delicious schadenfreude.
Mark C, London
...Man. It's a good thing Mourinho doesn't have any shame, because it would have been pretty embarrassing for most people to make no attempt to get an away goal and then give up quite a few having secured the one home goal they needed. I'd probably go a bit red and sheepish. He sure dodged one.
All that's left now is to congratulate the officials and take a few hand-picked players out back to shoot. Job done.
...Serves them right. I'd love to support them as a British team, but can't.
What a waste of money.
...Does anyone happen to have a good example with which to explain schadenfreude? Thanks.
...I kept my counsel after the 1st leg last week, but Chelsea and the masterful Mourinho got exactly what they deserved last night.
The reason the away goal was introduced was to prevent teams from doing exactly what Chelsea did last week - and provide an incentive to away teams for the obvious away goal.
After a season of turgid dour football, it peaked in Madrid with them not leaving their 18yard line. You just can't play for a 0-0 away, and count on beating a team of Atletico's standard at home.
This is a Madrid side leading La Liga, ahead of the team that just whooped Bayern, and Barca (who they beat) in the last round, they were always likely to score at Stamford Bridge (where a beleaguered Sunderland won just 2 weeks ago).
You can praise Jose's teams for defending, but in reality, Rodgers was right, they got lucky with teams making errors, and now it happened to them. Finally, after seeing Mourinho get his pants pulled down and watching Robben (of all people) telling Madrid players to stop cheating, id say this - in the most sadistic way possible - has been a good week.
Strevs (what goes around, comes around) AFC, Canada
Three Points On The Match
1. Away goals. These semi-finals showed, above all else, the importance of away goals in Europe. Bayern's bad result in Madrid quickly became a terrible result as soon as the scale of the task confronting them in containing Ronaldo, Bale, Di Maria and er, Ramos on their own patch became apparent. Once Ramos scored the first goal Bayern had to chase the game and that was goodnight for them. Mourinho's 'defensive masterclass' in Madrid quickly became a wasted opportunity as soon as Adrian scored the opener at Stamford Bridge. 0-0 away in Europe in the knockout stages is NOT a good result!
2. Rules. If Atletico win their next two league games they win La Liga even if they lose 10-0 to Barca in their last game. This is because La Liga positions are, in the event of a tie in points, decided on head to head record. If Atletico lose at Barca they will likely finish on same points as Real but with a worse goal difference but this doesn't matter due to their win in the Bernabeu all the way back in September! Interesting one as it's not that unlikely that there could be a 3 way tie in the Premier League this year - all 3 teams could get 84 points (Chelsea win their last 2, Pool draw at Palace and win their final game, City draw at Goodison and win their final two). Assuming no ridiculous scores in any of the team's winning results City will win the league on goal difference despite Chelsea having beaten City and Pool home and away. Which system do people prefer? Personally I like head-to-head as it puts even more pressure on the games between the top teams.
3. Balls. Is it me or are there different rules in the Champions League where ball-boys can throw the players another ball once the 'in play' ball leaves the pitch thus saving time, fans holding on to the ball etc. In the Premier League, as far as I'm aware, we use one ball which must be booted out of the stadium, eaten by an oversized fan etc before a referee will consider using another ball. Can we not adopt the Champions League system? It seems to get the game re-started quicker and help the attacking team which surely, is what we all want to see?
Ben, AFC, London
Hazard Missing In Big Games?
This may seem more of a reaction to last night's game but it is more a reaction to recent mailbox entries about Franck Ribery in that I believe Eden Hazard could well be the new Franck Ribery. Luckily for Hazard he is a lot more handsome but he shares similar characteristics in that I've yet to see him have a good game when I watch a full game but he always looks good on the highlights reel.
I must admit that I only tend to watch Chelsea in "big" games (by that I mean ones they may lose) as I struggle to find enjoyment in their style, but when I do watch them I find Hazard's contribution noticeable by its absence. This is not to say I don't think he's a good player - he clearly is - but for all his good work 20-50 yards from goal where he is fast, direct and exciting, he appears to lack a final product nearer to goal.
In the games I see him in his impact in the final third whether through goals or assists is diminished. It seems the closer he gets to goal the less direct and less imaginative he becomes and that is where he reminds me of Ribery. In the big games he plays it safe so loses the very thing that makes him so exciting and enjoyable in other games.
He is still young so may well improve but I will confidently predict that he will have limited impact on the World Cup, at best scoring the third against someone like Algeria in a 3-0 victory. In the crucial knock-out stages he will disappear.
John (Jose is a specialist in semi-final failure) Porter
Doesn't Look Good For Jose
People might say that Mourinho's football is not very exciting but I think we can all understand that Chelsea fans have broadly made their peace with this because he wins them stuff.
It was utterly dull watching the 0-0 draw last week and in fact was also dull (and bitterly painful) watching them at Anfield too. I am rather pleased that despite Mourinho's best efforts, with just the 6 defenders on the pitch at the start and a squad being paid three times more than the Atletico squad he wasn't able to stop the tide tonight.
So in all likelihood a trophyless season for Chelsea. You can call Mourinho a tactical genius all you like but he does seem unable to win without spending £100m every summer more or less. People can point to Porto all they like but it's now been a decade since he did anything other than buy his way to success. With Man City also in a position to do the same, will Mourinho actually enjoy much success in England this time around? Barcelona stifled him in Spain and it wouldn't shock me to see City do something similar in England.
Did Diego Do A Jose?
I was at work (it's still working hours in the U.S.) and unfortunately didn't see the Atletico - Chelsea match, but I did follow it on F365.
Anyway, the burning question I have is.. Did Diego do a Jose? I'm not talking in terms of tactics,team setup, etc.. he seems to have out-Josed Jose on that front. I'm wondering if he slid down the Stamford Bridge pitch when Costa scored, a la Jose at OT some 10-odd years ago?
Looking at what Simeone has done with Atletico, and the way he has done it, I think he should be considered Jose's true heir rather than AVB.
Also I would think the odds of Chelsea signing another Atletico stiker for crazy money (though Nando came via L'pool) would have tanked after that match. A starting pair of Costa and Lukaku next season who probably make most defenders s**t their pants just looking at the two of them. Come on Jose - make it happen!
The Weird Minute's Applause
What is it with English football and breaking into applauds instead of observing a minutes silence before games? It's really starting to bother me because it seems a coward's option because people are scared that some idiots will disrespect the silence by chanting or booing so they applaud to drown them out.
Watching Revista de la Liga, all the games observed perfect silences for Tito Vilanova before each game over the weekend. At Stamford Bridge the Atletico fans remained silent as did the players while Chelsea fans and players applauded (I'm not picking on just Chelsea).
I know it might be a personal preference thing but I just think the silence is more fitting, more traditional and symbolises how those participating are putting everything else going on around them on pause to contemplate the life of those being mourned. It's a habit that I think needs to change. Are we so self obsessed or football tribalist that we can't respect the dead for just a minute?
Would be interesting to know how other mailboxers feel about this.
Still A Seling Club?
So Atletico Madrid have now made their way into the Champions League final and are two games away from winning the La Liga. Why then, do I see in every gossip section that they're bound to yet again lose one or more key players this transfer window?
These guys are heavy favourites to be the best team in Spain and have a very real chance of being the best club in Europe (The World) yet Diego Costa is constantly linked with moving to Chelsea....a team his current team have knocked out and who look likely to finish up third in their league. I thought the exact same thing with Dortmund over the last two years. Best team in Germany two years ago and they lose half their squad, Champions league final last year and again lose more key players to clubs that didn't do as well as their previous club.
Why is it that when a team like Real Madrid or Manchester United do really well, we only expect them to get stronger, but when Dortmund or Atleti do well we expect them to lose players? What makes some teams adhesive and other teams leak top quality? Is it just to do with money? Surely football success leads to financial success?
Surely No Carroll For World Cup?
Roy Hodgson has stated that his England squad will be chosen on the basis of players' form over the whole season, no Walkt just recent weeks. Surely then, we can once and for all put to bed the question marks over Andy Carroll - he's hardly played until recent weeks and has managed 2 goals so far. Ricky Lambert's much better first touch and all-round play, as well as 11 Premier League goals, must make him the obvious 4th choice forward?
If the whole season is taken into account, players like Lampard, Cleverley and Walker shouldn't make the cut either. Having said that, expect to see one or both on the standby list. I get the impression that Ross Barkley has been a little less impressive in the last few weeks, though I've not watched as much football recently either. Can anyone suggest whether he might be suffering from fatigue a little? If so, some serious thought needs to go into deciding whether taking him to Brazil is a wise idea considering the heat. As a Manchester United fan, I'm not that convinced that Smalling is England quality but he's a favourite of Roy's and his experience at the highest level will count in his favour. We shall see what Roy makes of all this in 12 days' time.
Finally, I'm probably alone here, but I'm really hoping that Rooney and Gerrard (and Lampard as Gerrard's obvious replacement) pick up injuries that rule them out of the tournament. Expectations are at an all-time low and I genuinely wonder if taking those two out might free up others to play their more natural game. Obviously we'd need to find another holding midfielder sharpish but Gerrard should be retiring after the WC anyway so we'd lose very little other than on-pitch leadership... which admittedly can count for a lot.
As much as Rooney has great skill, the longer we try and shoehorn him and Sturridge into a 4-3-3, the more Sturridge (and England) will suffer. A nice long term injury would allow Welbeck, Sturridge and Sterling (who I hate but have to admit is the best choice now) to play up front in an attack that would be skilful, flexible and good to watch without him waddling around getting angry and sent off.
I can but dream; sadistically.