Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Chelsea simply have no case for the defence

Manager Diego Simeone salutes the Atletico fans at Stamford Bridge last night

The unbreakable Blue wall crumbled last night. Organised, disciplined, uncompromising and solid at Anfield on Sunday, Chelsea's defence fell apart at critical times as Jose Mourinho's Champions League dream faded away to nothing at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho believed the script had been written for him.

He would lead his team to his native Portugal on May 24 and take on his old side Real Madrid and compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo.

An outstanding Atletico Madrid side had other ideas. Stifled in the first leg, the La Liga champions elect didn't just defeat Chelsea second time around – they destroyed them, setting up a fascinating final in Lisbon with city rivals Real.

This loss, 3-1 on the night and on aggregate, will have hurt the Stamford Bridge boss.

Mourinho has won the competition with Porto and Inter Milan, but such is his affinity with Chelsea, Champions League success with them really would be a special one.

He's still waiting.

In his first spell in charge of the west London outfit, Mourinho lost two semi-finals to Liverpool and back this season at what he feels is his spiritual home he has been beaten at the same stage again.

Rightly hailed for his astute tactics after Chelsea's 2-0 Premier League victory at Liverpool, his record for the Blues in the biggest competition of them all suggests he's not the ultimate big game boss that he's perceived to be.

It appeared to be going to plan when the home side broke the deadlock on 36 minutes through Fernando Torres, who refused to celebrate against his old club and his new one with a move expected in the summer.

Dejected: Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres of Chelsea
Dejected: Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres of Chelsea
Chelsea's Fernando Torres (right) and Samuel Eto'o stand dejected after conceding a second goal during the UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea's Fernando Torres (right) and Samuel Eto'o stand dejected after conceding a second goal during the UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, London
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea reacts with team mates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Chelsea and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Fernando Torres of Chelsea reacts with team mates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Chelsea and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Strange as it seems, scoring that goal did Chelsea few favours as they were found wanting when Atletico upped the ante and attacked with real intent.

Mourinho wasn't the only one with a dream. Atletico boss Diego Simeone and his players had one too and were not going to let it die. It's been 40 years since the club made a European Cup final.

Wonderfully balanced from impressive goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, to the inspirational Diego Costa up front, Atletico are closing in on a title in Spain. It was easy to see why as they moved through the gears at Stamford Bridge.

Further Reading

Chelsea 'aren't set-up to play football', admits Eden Hazard

Chelsea 1 - 3 Atlético Madrid: José Mourinho's men crash out of the Champions League after semi-final defeat at Stamford Bridge 

They were helped though by Chelsea's sloppy defending with Eden Hazard the chief culprit. Twice he failed to track runs on Atletico's right wing leading to the first goal for Adrian Lopez and the third for the superb Arda Turan. Had Hazard played at Anfield on Sunday the result may have been different. Magnificent in the opposition box he is a mess in his own.

He wasn't the only one at fault though with John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill all hitting the panic button.

Lopez's strike just before the break was crucial. So too the penalty on the hour, which gave the visitors a 2-1 lead, from Chelsea-bound Costa, who did celebrate – and from there Madrid were bound for a derby decider.

Atletico will win at least one trophy this season.

Unless Manchester City and Liverpool falter in the Premier League, Chelsea and Mourinho will have none.

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