Soccer Magazine

Chelsea in Trouble

By Jackmc13

Consider this.

Two years ago, Chelsea was in crisis mode, at risk of being knocked out in the Champions League Round of 16, and missing the competition entirely the next year after a bad spell of domestic form. That Chelsea team went on to win the FA Cup, and beat the two best teams in the world in Barcelona and Bayern Munich en route to the club’s first Champions League trophy.

Fast forward two years. Chelsea are a hundred times more talented, while facing much weaker opposition in the Champions League Quarterfinal. And yet, they stand at the brink of elimination after a poor display in a 3-1 away loss to Paris-Saint-Germain.

Stupid defensive mishaps and poor execution plagued Chelsea from the start, as they conceded a goal to Eziquiel Lavezzi inside three minutes after a poor clearance from John Terry. After Eden Hazard’s penalty drew things level on 28 minutes, Chelsea dominated for the rest of the first half before ceding control to the Parisians. David Luiz deflected the ball into the back of his own net, and the defense collapsed in the final minute as Javier Pastore fired a rocket into Petr Cech’s near-post to finish the game 3-1.

David Luiz and co. must improve for Tuesday's do-or-die showdown at the Bridge

David Luiz and co. must improve for Tuesday’s do-or-die showdown at the Bridge

There is a mountain to climb for Jose Mourinho and his soldiers, as they look to their own fortress at Stamford Bridge to turn the tie. A 2-0 victory would be good enough to go through, while a 3-1 result would send the proceedings into extra time and penalties if need be.

As a Chelsea fan it would be easy to say that the squad will overcome the 2-0 deficit that they were once faced with two years ago. The fact is that this isn’t the same side that we saw eek out victories against Napoli, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Raul Meireles, Juan Mata, Ashley Cole and most importantly Didier Drogba are all gone, Ramires is banned after accumulating too many yellow cards, and with them, the spirit has disappeared.

What the squad lack most is a striker, as was proven again last night. Andre Schurrle was given the task of playing alone up front, simply due to the fact that Chelsea have no striker capable of shouldering the load in a big Champions League fixture. Fernando Torres proved useless after coming on in the second half, Demba Ba went unused and Samuel Eto’o never made the flight to Paris due to a nagging hamstring injury.

Gone are the days when Didier Drogba could dictate the pace of an entire match with his brute force and brilliant ball control. The team now rely on the pace and technique of smaller, less physical players like Eden Hazard and Willian. While this would prove effective if the team had a competent striker, the strategy seems to have faltered as of late.

Chelsea have been in a transitional phase for the last two seasons. Drogba was the first domino to fall, followed by Michael Essien and Ashley Cole, who’s lost his regular spot at left back to Cesar Azpilicueta in recent months. Next to go will most likely be Frank Lampard who’s a part-time player. Two players who have been sensational this season, John Terry and Petr Cech, looked slow and winded yesterday evening, both of whom had a hand in conceding the first and third goals. It will be interesting to see how the veterans respond Tuesday.

It’s true; the team will be boosted by the return of Eto’o on Tuesday (willing he’s fit), a big game player who has been dynamite during home games at the Bridge. But the fact remains; the rest of the players need to turn up on Tuesday.

Chelsea in Trouble

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