Stamford Bridge

Next Game

Chelsea v Arsenal

Sunday, 05 October 2014, 14:05

Barclays Prem

Last Game

Sporting 0 - 1 Chelsea

Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 19:45

Champions League Group G

Andre the giant

Andre Schurrle epitomised Chelsea's Champions League pedigree against PSG, writes Peter Fraser.

Last Updated: 09/04/14 at 09:23

Andre Schurrle: The German saved Jose Mourinho's team after their slow start

Andre Schurrle: The German saved Jose Mourinho's team after their slow start

Outfought and outplayed. That was the story of Chelsea's performance after 18 minutes of Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain.

Jose Mourinho's team were trailing their opponents on passing accuracy and duels won up to that minute. They were chasing shadows in midfield as a 4-2-3-1 formation was overrun by Laurent Blanc's 4-3-3 line-up. Despite the very early stage, it looked like a night when a Chelsea comeback was never going to materialise.

Things then seemed to go from bad to worse. Injury forced Eden Hazard to be replaced by Andre Schurrle. It immediately appeared like a major problem for Chelsea. Hazard has been their player of the season and is their top scorer in the Premier League. That form is a reason why he has been linked with a transfer to PSG.

However, the Belgian had not looked fit from kick-off, had only touched the ball 11 times and had played just eight passes before he was substituted. In his place on the left flank of Chelsea's advanced midfield three, Schurrle came on and appeared almost some sort of imposter as he and his club-mates came back to earn an epic win 3-3 on away goals.

Schurrle replaced the injured Eden Hazard in the 18th minute in a moment which changed the game

This memorable second-leg turnaround should not be a night for just an unruffled Mourinho to be praised for more fine tactical thinking in Europe, regardless of planning for different scenarios and even another touchline sprint which will no doubt be replayed for many years. Indeed, there is an argument for Blanc having had the better of his more-experienced opposite number in phases over the two legs.

The accolades in Chelsea's recovery must also go to the grit and endeavour which similarly epitomises Mourinho teams. It is a reason why the Portuguese has never lost a two-legged continental European quarter-final and Schurrle personified that factor.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS


Sky Sports subscribers can watch highlights of Chelsea v PSG.

After an £18million move from Bayer Leverkusen last summer, Schurrle has not entirely set the world alight at Stamford Bridge. The German is not technically brilliant and attempted just 19 passes in his time in the second leg on the field against PSG. His performance, though, in this comeback from a 3-1 first-leg defeat demonstrated his capabilities in what is developing into a strong personal end to the season.

Apart from his goal in the 32nd minute, his first in the Champions League since scoring for Leverkusen against Valencia in October 2011, Schurrle instantly gave Chelsea the drive and impact they had been lacking. Whenever he got the ball, he carried it forward and looked to get into the box; a task of which an unfit Hazard had been incapable (see below).

Schurrle's first-half touch map (right) shows how he got into the box when Hazard (left) had failed

PSG and Blanc, a former World Cup-winning centre-back, will have been irate at the manner in which they conceded that opening goal of the night but that should not take away from the class of Schurrle's finish. He might sometimes look a little out of control with the ball when dribbling or passing but what is especially nice to watch about the way he shoots is the manner he does so with superb balance.

Schurrle's classy finishing

Such was Schurrle's impact, Chelsea had wrestled back a dominance of possession, albeit a narrow one (51.6%), by half-time and they had also narrowed the duels won count to just 27-25 in PSG's favour.

Chelsea's No.14 was superb in his role on the flanks, with him even being shifted to the right in the 66th minute to make room for Demba Ba - who scored the roof-raising 87th minute goal which saw Chelsea through, as Mourinho's team went for all or bust.

But Schurrle's performances in this tie also underlined the error Mourinho had made in playing him as a lone striker in the first leg in Paris. Schurrle represents a snapshot of why Mourinho's tactics were lacking in places against Blanc over these two legs. He also represents why the Chelsea boss will no doubt not make the same errors again as his team continue what had previously looked an unthinkable route towards the final when they lost at home and away to Basel earlier in this competition.

Watching Chelsea and Mourinho in Europe this season has at times seemed a bit like Groundhog Day - with counter-attacking tactics, as was the case against Basel. However, Schurrle's attitude, style and 'I'll show you' work ethic was perfect in the second leg. His in-your-face approach gave Chelsea a kick-start and freshness in a team which had previously not looked designed to chase the 3-1 aggregate scoreline. Never mind Bill Murray taking out his frustrations on an alarm clock, Schurrle was the man giving Chelsea the sharp wake-up call.

The German rattled the crossbar in the 59th minute with another beautiful shot and, not long after, again tested PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. He finished the match with four shots of which two were on target and both totals were more than any of his team-mates. He also had one shot which was blocked (see below).

Schurrle's four shots and one blocked effort were more than any of his individual team-mates

Inevitably, Schurrle's impact did fade slightly in the latter stages when Chelsea looked like they might have been running out of energy. The influence of Willian should also not go unnoticed after he was again excellent and covered vast ground in the heart of Chelsea's midfield. But Schurrle was still the man who had turned the tide earlier in the game when it mattered most to his team.

Chelsea have now reached the Champions League semi-finals in seven of the last 11 seasons. Mourinho has won 15 of his 22 Champions League games in charge at Stamford Bridge. On Tuesday night, it was Schurrle who helped keep up that remarkable pedigree.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

put Ince in my fantasy football team, so it's no surprise at all really. I do that to players. Also responsible for De Jong and Upson being injured. Think I'll transfer in Di Maria just to ruin United....

megabrow (cufc)
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

L

ovren? £20m always seemed a touch on the expensive side, but I wasn't expecting him to be quite such a waste of money

stevenjameshyde
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

H

alf of our players have the physical presence of a 14 year old girl. I don't know why people are always shocked that they're injured.

TheWhiz
Wenger baffled by injuries

Footer 365

European qualifiers: Chris Coleman names Wales squad and backs young guns to shine

Wales coach Chris Coleman has backed his younger players to shine in the absence of star duo Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen.

Europa League: Police Scotland have warned Celtic fans not to sell on match tickets

Police have warned Celtic fans not to sell tickets to Dinamo Zagreb supporters ahead of Thursday's Europa League tie.

England: Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs can become next Ashley Cole

Arsene Wenger believes Kieran Gibbs can follow Ashley Cole's example and become England's first choice left-back.

Mail Box

It Was Better When City Were Rubbish

'I think I preferred it when we were s**t' says one City fan in the afternoon mailbox. There's a decent chat about the empty seats plus views on Liverpool and Roma...

Do City Really Need To Expand Their Stadium?

That's the question posed by one Man United fan in the mailbox after seeing the empty seats at the Etihad last night. Sadly, there isn't a single mail from a City supporter...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property