There’s a good chance that if it was up to Fernando Torres, Chelsea would have been still looking for that equalizing goal. Instead, in a performance filled with chances but a lot of disappointing and bad football from the European champions, it was Eden Hazard, coming off the bench, that became the hero of the day.
There was nothing organized or cohesive in the way Chelsea played – all soloist attempts at putting the team back on top of the tie after another dose of pathetic defending helped Sparta Prague grab a shocking lead at Stamford Bridge. They had to wait 75 minutes until Eden Hazard, who came on in the 67th minute for another disappointing Oscar match, came up with his own shade of brilliance to send Chelsea into the next round.
It’s been a slightly weird season for Hazard, who does have an impressive tally of 11 goals and 14 assists this season in all competitions, but it sometimes seems that he wasted all of his best efforts during the successful start to the season, and as Roberto Di Matteo ran out of luck and ideas, so did Hazard’s ability start to diminish. Under Rafa Benitez, it’s quite clear that Juan Mata is his number 10, not just a number on the jersey but the unmovable man who plays behind the striker. Hazard is doing better and better from the left wing, adapting, but the suspension due to his Swansea ball boy incident did hurt his season and return to form.
But when it comes to talent? Hazard is probably the most talented played on this Chelsea team; Maybe he would be better off playing where Mata is playing right now, but it’s hard to argue that Mata has been Chelsea’s best player this season, and the ability of the two to combine, exchange places and feed off each other’s vision and passing might be the basis for future greatness at the club, just like the Marco Reus – Mario Gotze duo at Dortmund.
One man who should be really enjoying the cooperation between the two, or from anyone in the three player set behind him (Victor Moses and Oscar earlier in the match) is Fernando Torres, but the Spanish player is a sad tale of a man that keeps getting the backing of his manager, at least in front of the media, but no one believes him anymore as Torres displayed an impressive gallery of hair-raising misses (five this time), with his 2013 scoring tally standing at 2 goals in 13 matches.
We could be talking about Fernando not scoring goals, and he had four chances. ut he had four chances. Let’s turn it into a positive. I’ve seen him in games not having these chances because he’s not in the right position. Today the goalkeeper stopped him and he missed some, but he did a good job for the team, was in the right position.
It wasn’t the situation where the striker disappeared. He was in the right place at the right time. Are we disappointed he didn’t score? Yes, we are. But he was still giving his all to the team. If he continues working like today and playing like he did today, he will score goals. I’m convinced about that.