Game in a sentence
Juventus produce a master class performance in Turin, sending Chelsea to the brink in a thoroughly disheartening night for Roberto Di Matteo.
- False nines. Italian Jesus. Keeper captains. Zizou. Chelsea’s date with Juventus in Turin would be the highlight of matchday five, one which featured bizarre scenes in Denmark that directly impacted the fates of these two titans.
- Robert Di Matteo’s decision to leave Fernando Torres on the bench wasn’t a surprise. Instead the Chelsea manager opted to employ a false nine that would rely on the counter to find goals. It nearly worked. A majestic run from Oscar nearly resulted in the game’s opening marker — Eden Hazard was unable to beat Gigi Buffon. The Belgian should’ve done better.
- Outside of that chance the first half was dominated by Juventus. The bianconeri’s wing backs — Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner — terrorized Chelsea’s defense. César Azpilicueta did well to contain Asamoah as best he could, but the Ghanian international was still able to produce menacing crosses that left the Chelsea defence scrambling. If not for the heroics of Petr Cech, this game is decided well before the end of the opening 45 minutes. Saves on dangerous strikes from Marchisio and Vucinic stood out.
- Alas, Cech’s incredible performance wasn’t enough to keep the home side from opening the scoring. A strike from Andrea Pirlo was diverted — deflected, let’s not get bogged down in semantics — by Fabio Quagliarella, catching Cech flat footed for the first time in the match. It was unlucky for the Chelsea captain but well deserved for Juventus. A half of complete dominance was greeted with a one goal lead in the 38th minute.
- Seconds later it was nearly 2-0 after another threatening Asamoah cross bounced off David Luiz — who was flat out terrible today — and needed an Ashley Cole clearance off the line.
- In the dying moments of the half Chelsea’s counter once again showed flashes of brilliance. A dangerous challenge from Leonardo Bonucci on Hazard abruptly stopped the forward from streaking into the Juventus half. The foul drew a yellow, but the penalty for illegally thwarting a clear 2 on 1 chance should’ve been greater in this writer’s opinion.
- The difference in this game was the quality of the Juventus midfield — led by Pirlo, Marchisio and Vidal — in comparison to their Chelsea counterparts. Juan Mata was rendered irrelevant for large stretches of the game. Di Matteo will draw criticism for not employing a striker, but the decision to employ an ineffective John Obi Mikel for as long as he did was questionable.
- Pirlo, continuing to define the term regista, began the second half with his dancing shoes on. No one could touch him, though not many can on their best days.
- It wasn’t all good for Juventus. Selfish play coupled with some erratic passes made the opening moments of the second half one to forget for Mirko Vucinic.
- Once again Cech came up big, foiling Quagliarella after Luiz was caught too far up the pitch for seemingly the millionth time.
- Asamoah, unshackled by the removal of Azpilicueta from the game, would combine with Vucinic to set up Arturo Vidal for goal number two, killing Chelsea’s will in the process. It was Vidal’s fifth goal in his last six games. Hot streak.
- Torres made a cameo appearance for the final twenty minutes. Not sure what an introduction into a hopeless game is supposed to do for his waning confidence. At this point I don’t think Roberto Di Matteo cares about his striker’s mental state. The false nine was a cry for help directed at the luxury boxes high above.
- With Shakhtar’s 5-2 victory in Denmark the Blues are up against it with one game remaining in the group. Nottingham Forest — 1980/81 — were the last defending champions to go out in the first round. They may have some company real soon.
1. Kwadwo Asamoah
2. Andrea Pirlo
3. Arturo Vidal