Chelsea at Atletico: The best CL win this decade?

Date published: Thursday 28th September 2017 2:20

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The Gary Cahill Supporter Club
Before Aravind the Chelsea Fan gets published with another excellent and detailed missive of the Chelsea performance can I just say that I thought Gary Cahill was excellent tonight. I seem to be the only person who likes him. I fully expect Aravind to give him the usual slating.

Bloody hell we just scored the winner – great performance, Michy getting a knack for scoring key goals, Morata looking good, Bakayoko getting stronger and welcome back Hazard (definitely worth 300k a week…) Never write off a Conte team. Roll on Saturday and Man Citeh.
Chris Nixon, Surrey

 

Best English performance in CL this decade?
– This was Chelsea’s best European away performance since Anfield in 2009. Forget the result, the performance was 9/10.

– Actually strike it out. This was any English team’s best European away performance against top-quality opponent this decade.

– Among the Spanish teams+Bayern+PSG I consider Atletico the most annoying opponent because they mirror Chelsea in many ways. A team that will press like mad in their own half, close spaces and generally have an unapologetic style of football based on team spirit. To beat such a team the most important thing to do is match them with the same spirit. We did it last night. It helps that Chelsea also play unapologetic style of pragmatic football which I love! You wouldn’t find either manager whine about how good we were with the ball or how attacking we were – nonsense.

– Having said that, I felt we were tactically set up beautifully. In the opening sequences, Fabregas sat back with Bakayoko with Fab on the left side of midfield. Kante was tasked to press and harry up front on the right-hand side. This ensured we had over loads in many areas of the pitch while we were not exposed to any 1 v 1 situations wide or being counter attacked. The link-up play between Hazard and Morata was surreal!

– As the game wore on in the first half, Chelsea took an iron grip of possession and space. Our play when we lost the ball was more impressive than with it. We quickly either pressed and won the ball back, or quickly dropped to keep shape and deny space. It was how Atletico normally play – control space by denying opponent space! And we did it better.

– At this juncture, a long shout to Gary Cahill who chose to have comfortably his best game ever in a Chelsea shirt. A 10/10 performance from our captain (yes, last night he was my captain :-P). He put no foot wrong, was very aggressive in 1 v 1 defending, and was amazing with the ball (I am dazzled to even type it). He was calm, composed, made all the right decisions. I have always been a harsh critique of Cahill but credit to him, he was brilliant.

– That brings me to Moses, another player I am not a fan of. He was again exceptional in his game reading and covering defensive spaces. What impressed me more was his positioning when Atletico attacked. However, I do find his demeanor when he’s fouled or loses the ball irritating. Get up and get back. Don’t whine and throw your hands up.

– Luiz. Had one of those days when he resembled the play station defender. That foul was unnecessary, ridiculous and as Keane said lazy. What was he thinking? I was so disappointed when he gave the penalty away. Chasing a game against Atletico not an easy task. Ask Barcelona for it.

– Leading to that penalty we should have been out of sight by two goals. Hazard and Morata had good chances to finish the game. Like Chelsea, Atletico are a team you kill when you get a chance. If you don’t make dominance count, they’ll kill you with the only chance they get (I feel you Pep from last season).

– Thankfully we didnt have to worry because Conte made a subtle tactical switch. Fabregas moved to a Pirloesque position, Kante and Bakayoko were flanking him in midfield. This re-shuffle meant Chelsea could energetically and relentlessly press Atletico high up the pitch while Fabregas could spray passes into space from deep. More than Fabregas passing, it was the intense pressing by the Kante and Baka that created the pressure situations for the equalizer.

– Again, at this juncture, some thoughts on Morata who again had his best ever game for Chelsea. Movement, dribbling, first touch, finish, harrying – 10/10 in all. What a signing and what a player. To think he does all needed from a thuggish forward yet does not offend anyone is great! Along with Hazard who had another great outing, the partnership was great and is a good sign of what is to come in the future.

– Once we equalised, Conte re shuffled the midfield again by asking Baka to anchor and Fabregas moving up. I thought this was sensible as all of us would have taken a 1-1 gladly.

– I will say this, I dont think Chelsea planned for a winner after the late subs, but we deserved to win because we were better than Atletico in all aspects of the game. But I’d gladly take a last kick winner, especially if it means Diego gives that face!

– The only annoying thing was the disappearance of Fabregas in yet another big game. David Luiz did much more in five minutes as a midfield player than Fabregas in 85 minutes. That summed up his night.

– The 3-5-1-1 is the right structure to play for big games. I won’t be surprised if we see a similar line up vs City at the weekend. Gives us a lot of flexibility to play pro-active pressing football, reactive football, and a physical game. We are tired and as much as I’d love nothing but to mentally dent Pep like we did last season, won’t be surprised if the game ends up a draw also.
Aravind, a happy Chelsea fan

 

Chelsea’s best performance in Europe ever?
I know this is going to sound hyperbolic but I think that was Chelsea’s finest performance in Europe I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m racking my brain to think of a better one domestically. I’m considering the opposition, playing away in Spain, the atmosphere and the general need for a win. It was breathtaking and even without Michy’s late winner, most Chelsea fans would have been left purring like a Cheshire Cat in Wonderland.

Since Mr Abramovich bought the club, he has had pretensions of us colouring a shade of Barcelona. Then he had to sit on his box from on high and watch the muddying colours that the likes of Jose Mourinho served up. Now he (and we the fans) accepted it because we had never won anything (cups aside) and a hungry tummy fed with trophies makes one care much less about the ingredients used in pursuit of winning. We lapped it up.

But (like Mr Abramovich I suspect) I’ve been filled with this nagging tug of regret as I watched Manchester City construct a team (even Mancini’s City) that attacks with verve and pace. Yes we won early on with Mourinho but he set a template with the likes of Essien and Lampard and Mikel which left a team with little creativity and imagination. Great players yes, but we became a functional team lacking that little extra dash of special. My Arsenal friends would always lose and that was great but at least they played attractive football (circa 2010).

Which brings me to tonight. Wow. Just wow! Chelsea attacked from minute dot and never lifted our size 12 boots off Atletico’s flapping necks. It wasn’t reckless, like say Klopp’s Liverpool. It was a balanced attack, with Bakoyoko and Kante linking the play masterfully. On a side note, watching Bakayoko stride around the pitch last night, made the next ten years flash before my eyes. He will be our midfield general, ruining dreams for years to come. He is majestic, languid yet powerful and pressed the bejeezus out of a befuddled Atletico.

Morata! Again, wow. He bullied Atletico people. Atletico Madrid! His pace is deceptively frightening. He kept the ball every time it was played into his feet and with Hazard (again, best player in the league) getting back up to speed, I saw the fear of God in Godin’s eyes overtime he strode forward.

I know we won the Champions League in 2012 and that team had fabulous resolve and more than a few legendary Chelsea players, but we lucked out in the semi-finals and the finals. This team, however, is the real deal. We would absolutely take the game to Madrid or Bayern or PSG. I am not saying we will win the Champions League this year so hold your critical horses. What I am absolutely confident about is that we would have no inferiority complex when we meet those teams. We will not simply sit back and hope. Under Antonio Conte, we will puff our chests out and attack with control.

That may not have been Mr Abramovich’s wish in 2003 but I’ll take this version of Chealselona anyday.
Ricky (City next up for the carving. It’s almost Thanksgiving time anyway) Blues

 

Wow Chelsea. Wow.
Never felt this happy or proud of a Chelsea performance in Europe for a long time. Even the 2012 win was on the back of heavy defensive work and luck. But to go to the home of one of the very organised elite teams in Europe in their massive new stadium, completely outplay them and win is something else. For Morata to be the first opposition player to score in the new stadium after the persistent whistling he received from the home fans is really satisfying. Hazard was immense and his link-up play with Morata was exceptional. The Kante-Bakoyoko axis looks strong and overall the team performance – except that brain fade from Luiz – was beyond my expectations.
Sreekanth, Germany

 

Which is the biggest story?
To quote Mr Partridge, I hate to be an agenda bender but, after a game containing a 94th minute winner, the first side to beat Atletico in the CL in simply ages and the arch villain being left to hold his head in his hands as both his replacements scored, was yet another article about the underrating of Lukaku (following the thrashing of a really poor CSKA side) really the biggest football story of the night?
Ted Maul, Chelsea

(No, but we have one person working on an evening and they can only watch one game. And original content will always be framed higher on the site than an agency match report. In hindsight, we should maybe have covered Chelsea instead, but that game could easily have been as awful as the last 0-0 between the pair – Ed)

 

Lukaku > Owen
Owen criticised Lukaku for his contributions and efforts outside of scoring?

Wait, what??

This, the Owen of worldwide fame and acclaim for tracking back and tackling from the front with his fragile body thrown about?

All Owen ever did was run faster than defenders in my opinion, around them, a la ’98.

And when the knees went, so did the pace, and he had only poaching left, standing around doing bugger all until the ball fell to him!

The nerve.
Manc in SA (See, it’s easy to just cast aspersions Owen.)

 

Giddy about United
Manchester United are playing well at the moment and especially last night. Martial had a magnificent game and it seems like things are going well for him. I never doubted Lukaku and it shows with better service he is lethal. Matic has been the destroyer and perfect replacement for Carrick, I admit I was wrong in making a quick judgment when he came to the club. Am sure some games would be difficult knowing our coach has a way with pragmatism when need be, but all in all always looking forward to watching Man United play again.
Tony Bii (Kane is going to surpass some records), Kenya

 

Man United’s supporting cast is key
Having just watched my beloved Manchester United knock in another four goals I thought I’d write in on something I feel is one of the biggest reasons for our improvement this season. That is the improvement of our supporting cast – Martial, Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Mata and Pogba.

One of our problems last season was a lack of goals while playing with the handbrake on certainly didn’t help in this regard, The players mentioned all having inconsistent league campaigns didn’t do us much good either. While Zlatan was immense last season you always felt that if he didn’t score nobody else would as evidenced by the fact that he was top scorer with 17 and his closest teammate was Mata with six. I always had the feeling that if any two of the above mentioned had found the consistency levels we know they are capable of then we would’ve jumped two or three places higher up in the table last season (I know if and buts and all that).

Fast forward this season and Lukaku being the main goal scoring threat has made sure no-one has really missed Zlatan, in addition to that the supporting cast all seem to have taken their games up by a level or two. Which means Martial on three goals, Rashford on two goals, Pogba on two goals, Mkhitaryan on five assists (beat his entire assist tally from last season in the fist game) are a few goals away from beating their tallies from last season and we are still in September.

This has seen our performances improve this season as they seem to now be playing with real hunger and confidence leading to us scoring goals for fun and killing teams off which is something we often failed at doing last season. This bodes well for us going forward as the best teams usually have multiple sources for goals, I mean Lukaku can’t maintain this form forever or can he? so when he does finally have the odd bad game at least we know we can count on his support to step up.

On another note if Micheal Owen just shows how little it takes to be a football pundit. I mean, how is the man still constantly on TV?
Martin (4-0 is the new 1-1) Kenya

 

Spurs a feeder club? Behave
Whilst the Premier League’s global reach is something to be applauded, it does unfortunately give rise to complete numpteys like Govi who have very little connection to the football club they “support” and are allowed to cast their spurious views about football to the larger community.

Spurs have historically been a feeder club?

How long is your history, since you switched to supporting Man United from Arsenal in 2004?

Tottenham Hotspur have been around since 1882 and didn’t begin when Govi decided he was going to follow this football lark.

The laughable suggestion that Kane needs to Man United or Chelsea from a plastic fan who will probably just change from United to City and claim he’s always supported Manchester just highlights the ignorance of the guy. Firstly, Spurs wouldn’t sell and Kane wouldn’t want to go.

Whilst I acknowledge some work needs to be done to look at our wage ceiling and structure as we finally become consistently competitive in the Premier League era, it’s a shame F365 still air the views of armchair fans with little or no connection to their club who want to maintain what in their eyes is the ‘status quo’

Not really sure if this is more than a rant but basically Govi comment on your ‘own club’, you’re irrelevant to Spurs.
Raj THFC, North London

 

Let’s talk world-class relativity
It might be obvious, but footballers play in a) a team to b) a manager’s system. Whether they are world class is, in part, dependent on these factors. I’m going to call it footballer relativity.

Team-mates complement each others’ capabilities, intuition and personality. Would we consider Hazard “world class” if Chelsea were continually overrun? Probably not, we would criticize Hazard for not tracking back. Would we consider Iniesta world class if there were not Suarez or Messi making runs and creating space for his creative passing, but had a lone and fairly static Ibrahimovich up front and was partnered by Fellaini? What if Gerrard was partnered with Lampard every week rather than just in an England shirt? We will consider Neymar world class in a few years time if he manages to p*** off all his teammates to the detriment of the team? I’m not saying we would think that these players average – but we probably would focus on the weakness of their game and not elevate them to the status of “world class”.

Similarly, different managers have different styles of play. Simeone is a world-class manager, however his style is one of defense and counterattacking – so could struggle with the group of players at Real Madrid who play an attacking style of football. Equally, world class footballers used to possession and creativity might struggle under Simeone’s system at Athletico.

In conclusion whether a footballer is world class depends on whether (s)he would be among the best in the world in a particular position given the manager’s system and the players that surround him/her. I’m not sure whether I really care whether or not they are – the players who are routinely unreliable often make a better spectacle.
Ben ‘the Footballer’s Einstein’ Morton-Harmer

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