Jose’s er­ror over his subs costs Chelsea

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

DAN­GER MAN: Diego Costa cel­e­brates with coach Diego Sime­one af­ter scor­ing Atletico Madrid’s sec­ond

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