If Jose Mourinho needed any more convincing about the importance of Juan Mata, his performance in the Champions League made sure no doubts were left. Andre Schurrle was excellent on the wing and Ramires was unstoppable through the middle, but it was the Spanish star who made most of the difference as Chelsea got back to their winning ways.
Steaua Bucharest, who have now conceded 7 goals and have scored none in their first two matches of the competition, aren’t the best indication to the true strength of a team. Ramires’ stamina and speed up the middle might be a bit too much for this side to handle, but it seems like at least half the teams in the Premier League have enough quality in their midfield to make things difficult for Chelsea, especially when Frank Lampard is on the pitch.
But some things are clear to see, no matter who is in the lineup and who the team is facing. Andre Schurrle has been in and out of Mourinho’s thoughts this season, but he probably provides the best option for attacking and aggressive football down the left wing. His finishing touch, whether its passing or taking a shot at goal, hasn’t been very consistent, but that’s usually something we only see improve with time and a player actually getting more touches than he has up to this point.
Mata might have been the one playing on the right wing, but everything good that happened to Chelsea on offense went through him. Oscar is a good player, with excellent understanding of how to move without the ball and slip into the penalty box relatively unnoticed. He probably is harder worker than Mata as well, better equipped to defend and press defenses.
However, he’s simply not as talented or an intelligent of a passer Mata is. Oscar is a great addition to a playmaker, but not a substitute for one, even in the more modern adaptation of the position. Mata’s movement with the ball and ability to create things for Chelsea as he continued to swap positions and get into the danger areas created the first two goals for Chelsea, making the second half one long stretch of garbage time, with Ramires and Frank Lampard getting on the scoresheet to make it 4-0.
One sad figure for the evening was Fernando Torres, who started the match but had to leave after 11 minutes, picking up an injury. The ironic thing is he wasn’t suspended for a prolonged time by the FA, which means he know might actually miss the same amount of matches due to the injury, and not the scratch on the face of Jan Vertonghen.
Chelsea haven’t looked good against strong sides this season, but Mourinho has renewed faith in Juan Mata which now puts Willian and Eden Hazard in a position of having to prove they’re worth wasting a spot in the lineup on. Oscar is untouchable at the moment, even if both Hazard and Mata are better than him at the no. 10 position. With Mata being in the lineup, Chelsea are simply a better team.