If someone at Chelsea is actually kidding himself by thinking that not signing Radamel Falcao is what caused this debacle in the European Super Cup match he should look onwards, to everything wrong in the middle of the pitch and the defense, again with John Terry but without anyone stepping up to lead the unit in what was a very foreboding warning towards the rest of the season.
After three league wins, it seemed that Chelsea forgot that the nine points didn’t come against the classiest of oppositions. They forgot how bad they looked against Manchester City in the Charity Shield match, and they were reminded in Monaco, this time without anyone sent, as the team went down at half time 0-3 down and losing 1-4 when it was all said and done.
Maybe Roberto Di Matteo told his players to take it easy in this one, not expecting one of the world’s best strikers to be so in the zone, so lethal. But Falcao is a man for big matches and trophies, which aren’t presented that often to a player with Atletico Madrid. He was great with Porto in the Europa League title run and incredible for Atletico the next year, including scoring twice in the final. Now, it’s another trophy he added, with an impressive hat trick, maybe motivated by the fact Chelsea didn’t do enough to sign him, or any other big club around the continent.
On the other side of that flip coin is the shambles called the Chelsea midfield, with John Obi Mikel in the middle, looking as ineffective and sleepy as ever. At 25, there just doesn’t seem to be any chance the player who once had a huge transfer and legal war fought over him between Chelsea and United will ever develop into a world class midfielder, and certainly not an adequate replacement for Michael Essien, who left, on loan, to Real Madrid.
Lampard and Ramires did nothing in the middle of the park to resemble anything aggressive that would stop Atletico’s constant attacks, without any kind of ability or desire to keep the pace of the match down and make it easier for Eden Hazard and Juan Mata in their solo efforts to create something quite alone. It always felt like three Chelsea attacked against a swarm and disciplined group of Atletico players. Things did look better when Oscar came on from Ramires (not a central midfielder, for the 1000th time), meaning we might, finally, start seeing the young Brazilian get starts.
Fernando Torres never really plays well when he faces Atletico Madrid, it’s been that way with Liverpool as well. Maybe it’s the excitement of facing his old club, or maybe it’s just bad luck. His good start to the season was nowhere to be seen, as Hazard and Mata combined for their worst match of the season, leaving Torres all alone in his attempt to create chances.
There was nothing team-like or positive about Chelsea’s Friday night performance in Monaco, the last time the Super Cup visits the aging stadium before beginning a continent tour next year. Despite all the big names and pricey labels, it was a team effort that brought Chelsea to the Champions League title, not individual stardom. Falcao and Atletico were there just to serve as a reminder that Chelsea are still not where they expect to be.