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Chelsea beat Steaua Bucharest but did Juan Mata's great game spell trouble for Oscar?

Last Updated: 01/10/13 at 23:47

Juan Mata and Oscar: Can they play together in the same Chelsea team?

Juan Mata and Oscar: Can they play together in the same Chelsea team?

After their shock opening day defeat by Basel in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League, Chelsea responded with a straightforward 4-0 win at Steaua Bucharest to get their Group E campaign back on track.

There was no repeat of Chelsea's loss to the Romanian champions from last season's Europa League as two goals from Ramires either side of an own-goal from hapless Steaua full-back Daniel Georgievski came before Frank Lampard's late 20-yarder.

It gave Jose Mourinho reason to be cheerful following his pre-match media conference walkout but there were still plenty of talking points. Andre Schurrle produced a superb performance, however, there was again evidence Juan Mata and Oscar struggle to play in the same team despite their praise.

Steaua Bucharest v Chelsea starting line-ups

Selection

Mata and Schurrle were among two changes in the Chelsea team while Fernando Torres, following his Football Association disciplinary reprieve, started for a third successive game. But Torres would last just 11 minutes before an injury meant he had to be replaced by Samuel Eto'o.

Previously out-of-favour Mata, whose work ethic had been questioned by Mourinho, and Schurrle were called in to start under the roof at the National Arena as Eden Hazard (ankle) and John Obi Mikel were the players replaced.

Andre Schurrle gave Daniel Georgievski a tough night from kick-off

Where it was won and lost

Chelsea's game plan was to target their attacks down the left and it proved a successful tactic throughout the match. This was designed at exposing Steaua's erratic right-back, Georgievski, who had an appalling game and would score Chelsea's second goal with an own-goal.

Schurrle, playing on the left of Chelsea's advanced three midfielders, consequently saw plenty of possession and his link-up play with full-back Ashley Cole was key. Cole played 23 passes to Schurrle in the match while the reverse combination saw 15 passes. These were the two most-frequent combinations on the pitch.

Indeed, Germany international Schurrle had already enjoyed an impressive 24 touches of the ball by the time Chelsea opened the scoring in the 19th minute. His direct run saw Georgievski dive in with a rash challenge before Eto'o's mis-kick led to Ramires scoring from close range. Sky Sports' Tony Gale said of Georgievski, who won only five of his 12 duels on the night: "He has not got a clue how to defend."

Chelsea attacked on the left in the first half and Schurrle saw lots of the ball

But the big talking point before kick-off had been the inclusion of Mata and his ability to fit into the same team as Oscar. Mata had a fine game in the central role in the advanced midfield three and was rightly praised but this had an impact on Oscar, who was pushed out to the right.

Mata created four chances in the first half, played the pass which set Eto'o free in the lead-up to Chelsea's second goal - the own-goal from the dreadful Georgievski in the 44th minute - and he had Chelsea's joint-leading pass completion rate of 91.2% along with Cole before the interval.

In contrast, Oscar, suffering from being shoved out to the right, did not have a good first half. It included one dreadful, under-hit back-pass which could have let in Steaua for an equaliser when the score was still only 1-0. Only Petr Cech (14) touched the ball on fewer occasions and had a worse pass completion rate (37.5%) than the Brazilian (27 & 65%). That only served to add weight to the argument that Mata and Oscar are too similar to mean one player always suffers when they are in the same team.

Mata (l) was far more involved in the first half than Oscar (r)

Ten minutes after half-time, Schurrle was again hugely influential as Chelsea made it 3-0. Georgievski was embarrassed once more by the former Bayer Leverkusen player on the touchline before Oscar, in his best moment of the game, was able to assist Ramires for his second goal of the night.

Schurrle (14) played a key role in setting up Ramires' (7) second goal

Ramires had an excellent performance, covering a typically vast amount of the pitch while also scoring his two goals. Assisting Ramires' second goal also appeared to boost Oscar's confidence and, shortly after, his flick to Mata saw the latter strike a post as Chelsea turned on the style.

Mata (10) and Oscar (11) were too close while Schurrle (14) stayed wide and Ramires (r) was busy

But the pair found themselves in the same position on too many occasions while, by comparison, Schurrle benefited from staying out wide. When he was substituted in the 79th minute, Oscar had touched the ball (57) and attempted passes (46) on the fewest occasions of any outfield Chelsea player. He had also failed to hit the target from three shots and had created just two chances.

Mata, before he was substituted in the 81st minute, clearly benefited from the central role which is preferred by Oscar. The Spaniard had 72 touches, tried 64 passes and created six chances while hitting the target with one of his two shots.

Schurrle, though, was the undoubted star of the show and his tormenting of Georgievski led to the Steaua right-back's substitution in the 70th minute to the tune of cat calls from the home crowd. Mourinho, who saw Lampard add Chelsea's fourth in the 90th minute, could have no complaints with Schurrle. The summer signing had been left out of the squad for the defeat by Basel but finished the game against Steaua with more crosses (four) than any other player on the pitch and he saw more of the ball (91 touches) than any Chelsea team-mate.

Mourinho's view

"The result is very good. The points and the goals also. From the first minute it was very good. From the first minute we kept control of the game. We played good football with intelligence and maturity."

Wilkins' view

"I said at the start of the second half that Chelsea had to come out and be professional and that is exactly what they did. They carried on from there. With almost 15 minutes to go, it was like a five-a-side game. I was very impressed with Chelsea tonight. Juan Mata is an exceptional player and I do not see anything different now to what he was doing before. Jose has just stirred him up a touch."

Player ratings

Schurrle and Ramires were the star men for Chelsea in earning ratings of eight out of 10. Schurrle was a constant menace while Ramires scored twice. Mata also deserves praise for his performance when back in Chelsea's starting line-up before he was substituted.

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