May 15, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT
Chelsea’s best defender’s out for Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, his inability to control random acts of aggression earning him straight red against Barcelona. The man who’s arguably their second-best defender will also be suspended, having judged it prudent to do some scuffing of the penalty spot ahead of a second half kick.
And who knows? Branislav Ivanovic may have been right on that one. Regardless, both he and captain John Terry will miss this weekend’s Champions League final, leaving manager Roberto di Matteo thin along the back.
That’s because the team’s other central defense options also nursing knocks. David Luiz, nominally part of Chelsea’s starting XI, has been out since Apr. 15 after suffering a hamstring injury against Tottenham. Gary Cahill suffered a similar injury in the second leg in Cataluyna. That means spots one-through-our on Chelsea’s center half depth chart have either big red lines or huge question marks.
Today, things started looking up for the Blues, with reports out of Cobham having both Luiz and Cahill resuming training, though di Matteo was measured in his optimism. The duo would “try to train” with their teammates on Tuesday, and it’s still uncertain whether either will be ready come Saturday.
There’s no telling what Roberto di Matteo will do if all four are unavailable. Presumably they can’t get Alex back from Paris Saint-Germain. We could see Michael Essien paired with one of José Bosingwa or Paulo Ferreira in central defense.
The selection problems are reminiscent of 2009, if only much worse. Barcelona had to drop Yaya Touré into central defense after the eventual champions lost Dani Alves (suspension), Eric Abidal (suspension) and Rafa Marquez (injury) leading up to the final.
Pep Guardiola had the luxury of having his absences spread across the back line. He also had an uber-versatile defender with world class quality: Carles Puyol. Unfortunately for Chelsea, their two best, healthy options right now are left backs (Ashley Cole, Ryan Bertrand).
Apr 19, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT
Go inside the Manchester Derby match day experience with a pair of supporter groups.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT
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Apr 19, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
The Manchester City manager wouldn’t be drawn into questions about his future at the club.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
Spurs bracketed halftime with a pair of goals and they stood tall to Newcastle’s spotty threat.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT
Villa will play Arsenal in the FA Cup final after beating Liverpool against all the odds.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Mourinho plays up defensive masterclass. But how did he quell United’s attackers?
Apr 19, 2015, 10:44 AM EDT
Spurs search for a European place as they take on struggling Newcastle from St. James’ Park.
Apr 19, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT
The home side produced enough moments at the Etihad to see off a timid West Ham side.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
With his goal of an Eredivisie title secure, Memphis Depay will be a popular transfer target this coming summer.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
The West Ham defender flubbed an easy clearance and sent the ball into his own net as Manchester City have dominated West Ham in the first half.
Apr 19, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT
Thomas Tuchel will follow in Jurgen Klopp’s footsteps for the second time when he takes over at Borussia Dortmund this summer.
Apr 19, 2015, 7:52 AM EDT
A pair of slipping sides meet at the Etihad in a rematch of last seasons title-clinching win for Manchester City.
Apr 19, 2015, 7:31 AM EDT
It’s that time of year, where big clubs look to the bench to replace important players in big games.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:14 AM EDT
Keeping tabs on all the action from Week 7 of the 2015 MLS season.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:41 AM EDT
Late, late, late drama as the StubHub Center.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:39 PM EDT
Two red cards for RSL, a late goal for Vancouver and the Whitecaps just keep winning.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:12 PM EDT
Do the top teams have a responsibility to entertain, or should they look to win at all costs, no matter how boring it may be?
Apr 18, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT
Crew SC are going to be a really, really scary team once they get going. They picked up a great deal of steam on Saturday night.
Apr 18, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
Not the ideal time for a pair of key players to go down in the same game, four days before a CL quarterfinal second leg.
Apr 18, 2015, 5:58 PM EDT
New week, same story, new teams on top, same old excitement — the Championship is truly amazing this year.
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