Jose’s error over his subs costs Chelsea
I TOOK time on Wednesday night to go to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid. Here are my live diary of thoughts throughout the evening:
18.00: Plenty of serious faces as the teams arrive at the stadium. Chelsea arrive first and Madrid ten minutes later. I am left feeling that Chelsea’s earlier arrival gets them ahead of the game.
18.50: The Chelsea keepers are first out to warm up. I like the fact that they are sharper to the mark again. Funny, but already my feeling is that they are more ready for the challenge. I wasn’t sure up until this point which way the game might go. My gut is leading me towards Chelsea.
19.05 I am sitting waiting to see which team comes out first as a cheer to my left indicates the arrival of the Madrid keepers. Come on Chelsea! Beat them to the warm up...
19.07: I notice how young the Madrid keeper looks. Plenty of looking around. A real test of character for him. Meanwhile Mark Schwarzer is well into his work.
19.11: Athletico emerge first for the warm up. Mmmmmm... wasn’t expecting that. Within seconds though, Chelsea follow. They should have come first is my feeling!
19.14: Chelsea are straight into ball work and dynamic movement while the Spaniards do a prehab session. Presumably Chelsea have done prehab inside. Edge to Chelsea again in my mind.
19.19: I take a look at the Chelsea team. Would never have predicted that line up! All the talk was of Eto’o up front. Not Torres. And where is Azpilicueta playing with Cole and Ivanovic both in? Sky forecasts him behind Torres.Wow! You can never second guess Jose Mourinho. Glad to see Hazard back. Looking forward to seeing him live. Some player.
19.44: Teams are out. Madrid juggling a ball. Chelsea in a huddle. One team more relaxed. One team more intense. Chelsea players applaud through the minute silence for Tito Vilanova; Madrid stay still. 19.45: Chelsea kick off. 20.10: It’s been am interesting start. Two errors from Gary Cahill, a nervy defence of the box resulting in a hit crossbar at one end, a lively Torres and a dangerous Hazard at the other. Balance of game to Chelsea.
Importantly, Madrid’s dangerous looking 19 Diego Costa has moved to the right after an early tussle with Ivanovic.
20.24: Torres was looking lively alright! 1-0 Chelsea. Superb controlled finish. Madrid still look dangerous, though, in and around Cahill. He has taken a card and he looks shaky. And Costa won’t lie down.
20.32: What a body blow. Right on the stroke of half time, Madrid equalise. Chelsea were slow to close down crossing opportunities down their right and a well flighted ball is knocked back across goal and turned in. Game on. Chelsea now know they have to score again. I wonder if the away goal helps Chelsea, the ambiguity is gone.
20.35: I am pondering Mourinho’s half time team talk. I am sure he will want to settle Cahill down; see a bit more from Hazard who looks lively but hasn’t seen a lot of the ball, and he will want Willian in higher areas. On the whole Chelsea have been the better side and Torres has looked hungry, up until he scored when his work rate seemed to drop. I wonder if he will get a pat on the back and a gentle boot up his rear! Meanwhile, out on the pitch, Madrid’s subs are put through a thorough and organised warm up routine. Chelsea’s subs are in the dressing room. Two different approaches.
20.46: As the teams prepare to come back out, I have a feeling that Chelsea will adopt a patient approach. They are back where they started really, needing a goal to win it. They look vulnerable to counter attacks down their right so I suspect it will be 25 mins of grind before any changes begin.
20.54: How wrong I was. Eight minutes in and a change is on its way after a very bright Madrid start. Eto’o replaces Cole. Cole had been very good and I suspected Cahill might be the one if a change was made. Cole doesn’t look best pleased, understandably I thought.
21.00: Hazard looks like he is feeling the effects of his lay off.
21.02: Penalty! Not the impact Mourinho wanted Eto’o to make. Costa puts Madrid ahead. Chelsea are reeling.
21.07: Chelsea hit the post and their onloan keeper Thibaut Courtois makes his second great save of the half. Mourinho decides he cannot wait any longer; Demba Ba replaces Torres.
21.15: A Madrid third. They have been by far the better side in this half, especially since Cole went off. As if to highlight that, the third comes from a right wing cross. It looks like it is game over. The Spaniards have just had too much midfield energy. Last throw of the dice as Schurrle comes on.
21.22: It’s all Madrid. They are confident, in control. Even Mourinho is muted. There is no Great Escape on here.
21.35: Game over and a disappointing exit.
I read my notes: I noticed in the warm up and pre-match how much more relaxed the Spaniards were. The Chelsea team seemed more intense/tense. There was much more fluency to the Madrid players. The substitutions could well have been the errors. For me, Cahill and Hazard were the first two off on the night. But there is no doubt either that Chelsea’s on-loan keeper played his part in his parent club’s demise. We came so close to providing a finalist...and so far.
DANGER MAN: Diego Costa celebrates with coach Diego Simeone after scoring Atletico Madrid’s second