Sep 19, 2012, 5:11 PM EDT
Man of the Match: This really should have been his night, but the final score will make it hard to celebrate everything Oscar brought to Chelsea. Getting the first start of his Blues’ career, the 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder was brought in to mark Andrea Pirlo out of the game, and although the Juventus regista barely made a sound, Oscar’s two first half goals will be what people remember.
In the 31st minute, Juventus gave Oscar too much room to open up on a left-footed shot deflected just inside the left post. Two minutes later, Oscar took a pass from Ashley Cole with his back to goal, put his first touch to his left, and turned on a shot at the edge of the area that he dripped into the upper-right corner.
Welcome to Champions League, Oscar? Or welcome to Oscar, Europe.
Packaged for takeaway:
- It’s a respectable result for both teams, but given Chelsea was up two after 33 minutes, the defending champions should be disappointed. This should have been an easy win, but after taking a two-goal lead, the Blues seemed to take the match for granted.
- The first goal they allowed (38′, Arturo Vidal) screamed lack of focus, Vidal allowed to receive the ball, elude Frank Lampard and Oscar before slotting a left-footed shot home from 20 yards.
- After that, Chelsea seemed to control the match. Juventus had a slight possession advantage but created very few chances. Petr Cech finished the game with no saves.
- And Chelsea played like a frontrunner: convinced of the outcome, beyond being threatened. They did force Buffon into five saves, but only the goals gave Juventus a real scare. There was never a push to restore the two-goal lead after Vidal cut it in half.
- That casual approach manifested on the equalizer. John Terry, already three yards behind the rest of the Chelsea line, was caught pushing forward by Claudio Marchisio and Fabio Quagliarella, the latter making a run into an empty penalty area. Marchisio’s through ball was perfect, giving Quagliarella an easy opportunity to tie the score.
- How did this happen? Chelsea had neutralized Juventus’s focal point (Pirlo). Their 4-2-3-1 formation should have allowed them to cancel out Vidal and Marchisio in the middle. Ashley Cole had a strong game, and Branislav Ivanovic wasn’t bothered by Kwadwo Asamoah. Where did things go wrong?
- In the middle. Although Chelsea should have been fine with John Obi Mikel and Lampard in the in front of the defense, they weren’t. Juventus may not have consistently threatened, but in the two moments that allowed them to take a point, Vidal and Marchisio beat Chelsea’s midfield.
- Potentially important point about the midfield battle: It changed in the 76th minute, when Oscar had to come off.
Andrea BarzagliLeonardo Bonucci stepped on the midfielder’s left ankle (high, around the shin). Oscar tried to continue but had to be subbed off for Juan Mata. How much this affected the rest of the game likely depends on how blue your lenses are; still, it was a bad foul, looked cynical, and forced Chelsea’s best player off.
- For Juventus, this was (to use a euphemism) a resourceful point. They got nothing from their best player and were quiet much of the night, yet they converted two of the three good chances they created. The performance could be called a typical Italian one, with the Old Lady lying in wait until they could snatch a point.
- For Chelsea, it’s a extremely disappointing result, and if you look at the nature of the Oscar goals, the draw becomes even more worrisome. The holders got two goals they won’t often replicate, yet they still couldn’t take three points. When you have talents like Oscar and Eden Hazard, you’re going to get more than an equal share of standout goals, but Roberto Di Matteo still needs to ask what happened with the rest of his attack.
- Worse, Chelsea dropped points at home, and while they’re capable of making them up in Turin, it’s a outcome that will raise questions: How good is this Chelsea team? And based on what we saw last year, do they have a reliable way of beating good teams? One that doesn’t involve parking the bus, as they did against Barcelona and Bayern? Under Di Matteo, can they play any role but the underdog?
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