Game in a Sentence

Chelsea’s Oscar makes his [insert Academy Awards pun here] debut, but Juventus manage to come back from two goals down via Vidal’s effort and Mikel’s brain fart.


  • Chelsea put out the now basically ubiquitous 4-2-3-1, with Mikel and Lampard doing the double pivot, Terry and David Luiz pairing up in central defense, and new boy Oscar starting in the hole alongside Hazard and Ramires, with Torres up front.
  • Meanwhile Juventus kept beating that 3-5-2 dead horse, with Asamoah and Stephan Lichsteiner as wingbacks, Pirlo playing deep beside Marchisio, and Vidal assisting Giovinco and Pylon Vucinic.
  • So. How to describe the opening half hour or so? Sloppy. Passing was errant, corners were wasted, diagonal passes over-hit. Hazard seemed quiet, Pirlo didn’t seem to have enough room to go forward to have much of an impact, Torres seemed isolated, Juventus crowded the box whenever Chelsea attacked. The type of game that tends to produce…
  • GOALS! Oscar, who appeared nervous in the opening stages, was quietly effective in marking Pirlo whenever he got a sniff of the Chelsea area. He refused to be drawn out of position, and I thought at the beginning I’d have to point this out lest people jump down his throat for not being awesome on his debut. And then he scored, in the 31st minute with a speculate lob that banged off Bonucci.
  • That clearly calmed his nerves because in the 33rd minute was monstrously good. A lovely touch after a pass from the genius Hazard allowed him to casually walk around the same midfield legend he spectacularly marked, and curl in one of those goals that literally makes you happier by watching. So go watch it.
  • While Juventus weren’t at peak form, they were still clearly Juventus. One of the advantages of the midfield 5 is to stretch the play, and Chelsea decided to play compact in defense. This mostly worked, although Vucinic got a sniff or two of goal, but it gave Arturo Vidal a lot of space to shoot from twenty yards and score in the 38th minute.
  • This was the scoreline heading into half time that we’ve been told so often “leaves things poised for a great second half,” but the payoff wasn’t so great. Chelsea faded as the half progressed and Juventus pressed for a goal. Bertrand came on for a not-that-great Ramires, and Oscar lasted an admirable 75 minutes before leaving for Juan Mata.
  • At first the sub seemed like a master stroke, as Hazard managed some nifty interplay with Mata on the way to a golden chance for the latter, he missed, but Juventus hadn’t done much in the way of threatening so it seemed Chelsea would simply need to be disciplined to escape the half.
  • Which they couldn’t manage. Obi John Mikelobi gave the ball away in his own half after a very quiet game, which allowed Marchisio to send Fabio “Super Sub” Quagliarella through to nutmeg Cech for the equalizer. John Terry was completely asleep. Mistakes will be made. But again, the compact defense trying the offside trap in this case looked porous.
  • And that’s how the game ended. Some very good individual performances, from Oscar of course, but more so from Arturo Vidal who made up for some of his teammates. All in all, Chelsea were the better team, certainly more lively in attack. Some sloppiness throughout though doesn’t bode well for the rest of the campaign. It’s early doors though. I think that’s the cliche, right?

Three Stars

1. Arturo Vidal
2. Oscar
3. Marchisio