It wasn’t really a question of who plays for Chelsea against Nordsjælland, a club that’s probably a bit out of its league in their first Champions League campaign, so putting Frank Lampard in the lineup, despite his poor form to start the season, made sense and paid off for Roberto Di Matteo in the harder-than-the-scoreline-suggests 4-0 win.
It’s not that Chelsea played badly, as they have in so many matches this season, but complacency can be a killer, even against a weak side like the Danes, who had enthusiasm as their only advantage in this match, and even that couldn’t make up for their sloppy play and terrible errors in areas you just don’t mess about.
Chelsea created a lot of pressure until the first goal, scored by a red-hot Juan Mata (brace). The problem is what came afterwards. Relying on your defense to hold back an inferior team isn’t a great idea, and Chelsea needed a couple of Cech saves and one Ashley Cole lunge to remain in the lead. Then came the David Luiz free kick, and the match was over.
Di Matteo made two more changes from the usual lineup – Gary Cahill got to start for John Terry, which is something the team should get used to sooner or later. Not just because of Terry’s suspension, but he’s not going to keep his place on the lineup on leadership alone for too long. Victor Moses got the start for Eden Hazard, giving Di Matteo a bit of a different look on the wing. Moses was quite dangerous with his crosses, but his finishing, like most of the team until the dying minutes of the match, was poor. The team did look better when Hazard, with his creativity and ability to play both in the middle and on the wing being an upgrade to the Wigan’s arrival first start with the team.
No Chelsea match can be reviewed without taking a close examination at Fernando Torres. In truth, he didn’t play badly. He was aggressive and mobile all match, constantly pressuring the Danish defense, winning more than a ball or two thanks to his persistence, leading to the first goal. The problem was, as it is many times, the finishing. Torres missed two fantastic opportunities, that were both easier to score than his clever little flick against Arsenal. This time, despite not grabbing a goal, the body language didn’t tell of any frustration or building depression.
This was probably Chelsea’s easiest match of the season, and they had the scoreline to show for it. Midfield issues weren’t a problem except for passing accuracy during the duller stages of the match, but the defense looked solid and the attack proved once again that it only needs a few minutes to finish a game on pure talent alone. So far, it’s been enough on both fronts. How long will that last, and will the team improve enough as a unit down the road, when individual brilliance stops paying dividends every match, is still an unknown.