Chelsea 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen – The Press Reaction, The Goal Videos, The Good and Bad

The newspaper reports

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “The theory that Chelsea did not sign a regular goalscorer in January continues to be exposed as a myth. Andre Villas-Boas’s first brush with the Champions League ended victorious here on Tuesday night, courtesy of a goal by an elegant, eye-catching and big-money signing. The only anomaly is that the player in question was still not Fernando Torres, but David Luiz.”

The Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “Beyond a Premier League and FA Cup double one of Carlo Ancelotti’s most important legacies at Chelsea was pushing for the £25m signing of David Luiz. He believed the Brazilian could become the best central defender in the world but last night, on his return to the team, Luiz again showed that he perhaps has ambitions to be the best striker, scoring a stunning, precious goal to gain Chelsea the victory they craved in their opening Group E Champions League match.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Deep in injury-time last night with the opposition’s goal in his sight and only the goalkeeper to beat, Fernando Torres had a decision to make. He could pull the trigger himself and try to end a run of games without a goal that goes back to April or he could square it to Juan Mata, who needed this goal much less than him. That Torres opted to tee up Mata for Chelsea’s second goal told us a little more about the mindset of the £50m striker who has just one goal in 23 games for his the club he joined in January. It suggested that Torres is coping with the burden of being the highest-profile non-goalscoring goalscorer in English football.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “David Luiz, with a fine strike midway through the second half, and Juan Mata in stoppage time gave Chelsea a firm foundation to begin the Champions League campaign. This always looked a tough opening game against the side that finished second in Germany last season and so it proved.”

The goals

67′ David Luiz 1-0
90′ Mata 2-0

The preamble

Some of our players will be feeling aches and pains tonight after an at times bruising encounter with a physical Bayer Leverkusen side. But their hearts won’t be depressed.

The team

Andre dropped Frank to the bench and rested Terry for Sunday’s Super Sunday Showdown at Old Trafford. Formations and stuff are beyond my ken. No matter.

Petr, David Luiz (Alex, 76), Ashley, Branislav, Jose, Florent, Jon, Raul (Frank, 65), Juan, Fernando, Daniel (Nicolas, 64).

The good

Luiz and Torres

  • Mata. After scoring on his Premier League debut he repeated the feat and scored on his Champions League debut too. What a player. It doesn’t matter which of the two sides you were supporting tonight, it was clear that Mata was by far the best player on the pitch. My new favourite player. His goal came after some great work and a lovely lay off from Torres.
  • Torres. Sure to be the subject matter of many column inches in tomorrow’s papers. Most will highlight the fact that he failed to score again. No matter. His commitment and attitude were first class and he could have scored a hat-trick in the first 10 minutes. He set up both goals and played really well for 90 minutes. What more can you ask? OK. A goal would have been nice. But I don’t think it’s a matter of great concern that he’s not scoring. Not on tonight’s performance, anyway. It’s just a matter of time. Surely.
  • David Luiz. Scored the all important first goal, though he was fortunate to still be on the pitch at the time. Ran the length of the pitch with the ball at his feet before laying it off and receiving it again from Torres and slotting home. It was a brilliant finish to a brilliant move. I love Luiz. And what hair! No? It’s a matter of taste. Anyway, he’s now scored three times as many goals as Torres in a little over half the appearances. But no matter. We’ll gloss over that fact. For now.
  • Sturridge. Splendid performance. Pace, trickery, vision and a bullet of a left foot. Brilliant. As a matter of fact, he was in with a shout for Man of the Match until Mata slotted home the second.

The bad

  • UEFA’s six-man squad of officials. Soon there’ll be as many officials as players and still they won’t get the important decisions right. Baffling. It’s a matter of concern that UEFA won’t sanction the use of technology.

The player ratings (by Blue Bayou)

The player ratings by Bayer Brands and Trademarks.

Bayer Heroin

  • Cech – Levitra (can be relied on to keep his end up)
  • Bosingwa – Canestan (his odd lapse can still bring you out in a rash)
  • Ivanovic – Polyurethane (durable and flexible)
  • Luiz – Heroin (it’s all about the highs and lows)
  • Cole – Aleve (“All Day Strong All Day Long”)
  • Meireles – Alka-Seltzer (adds a touch of plink plink fizz)
  • Mikel – Polycarbonate (some say bullet proof, some say lightweight)
  • Malouda – Supradyn (to “release his natural inner energy” and look alive rather than just awake)
  • Sturridge – Redoxon (effervescent and quite tasty)
  • Torres – Aspirin (a massive headache all round)
  • Mata – Rennie (seems to help with that midfield indigestion)
  • Anelka and Lampard (subs) – Nazol (shortly after they came on we were all breathing more easily)
  • Alex (sub) – Actron (pain free)

The Man of the Match

Torres and MataNo matter what you think Mata was Man of the Match.

The conclusion

Nothing matters very much. And very few things matter at all. Especially the Champions League. But the Champions League is a serious matter for Chelsea managers. It’s a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of some urgency to Roman that we win it soon. We will win it. One day. It’s just a matter of time. And luck. Lots of luck. And Mata.

And so much for all that. A couple of aspirins and bed for me. Goodnight.

The related links

There are 64 comments

Add yours
  1. NorthernVA

    Can anyone name a better holding midfielder than Mikel in the Premiership? I dare you to name one! Whoever you come up with the simple response in the words of Clay Davis (The Wire) Shiiiiidddd!

  2. NorthernVA

    Btw also watched Milan draw Barca at Nou Camp. One particular thing that struck me was Milan’s wall at one particular point in the second half which consisted of Zambrotta, Van Bommel, Ambrosini, Seedorf. All on the “wrong side” of 30. Experience or “age” is vital in European football. Been there done that mentality. 

  3. Der_Kaiser

    Opening hurdle out of the way, Europe-wise.  Pleased with the performance – fair old gamble starting with a pretty experimental side, but it paid off.  AVB seems to be handling the squad well and hopefully the pattern is established for resting the likes of JT and Frank when he can – having replacements that won’t let you down is obviously a big help, though.

    First time I’ve seen Mata and Meireles in the flesh and both look pretty decent; the former a sort of Zola/Robben hybrid and the latter unspectacular but very tidy and reliable.

    Impressed with Sturridge, but he hangs onto the ball for too long sometimes – hopefully that will be coached out of him, as he looks like a very handy player in the making.  Nice to hear the support for Torres and he did at least look mostly interested (still too many hands-on-hips “But I wanted the ball THERE!” moments though); not sure he’ll be ideal for Sunday and would prefer Anelka, but he probably earned a starting place last night.

    Pleased that Ballack got a decent reception – nice to see Monsieur LeBoeuf kissing the penalty spots at half time too.And so to Old Trafford… Let’s hope Benfica boot some lumps out of them tonight.

  4. Anonymous

    From memory I think Sam Wallace at The Indie often features on our Street of Shame writers of bollocks, but his quote above sums up how I felt about Torres and the second goal.

    He does seem to be buying into AVB’s “it’s the team that matters” ethos, despite all the continuing bad press he gets.

    And I see our energetic transatlantic cousins on “weain’tgotnohistory” blog are voting him Man of The Match for last night so far. Not sure I’d go that far, personally.

    Definite respect to AVB too for giving JT the night off and Lamps [his first of many?] bench-warming duties. Seems like he really does mean to use squad rotation way beyond anything Carlo ever felt brave enough to try.

  5. Mail

    The Bad should also feature David Luiz.  Great goal, but he shouldn’t have been on the pitch.  I’ve not had the benefit of seeing a TV replay of it, but from where I sit in the West Lower, the tackle on the touchline when he injured himself looked like at least a yellow and possibly a red-card lunge.  While in many respects he has all the ability in the world, he has to cut out the moments of madness which seem to be a regular feature of his game.  He is vital to our ambitions this season as a I don’t see any combination of JT/Alex/Bran being able to cope consistently against quality teams with good movement up front ie. those who we need to beat at the top of the Premier League and in the ECL knock-out stages.  Getting sent off for reckless challenges may mean he’s not playing when he’s really needed.

  6. Anonymous

    I thought Torres did all right, but no better than all right. The contrast between him and Studge was hard to miss. For good or ill, Studge looks like he thinks he’s going to score every time he’s anywhere near the ball. That snap shot that drew the save came out of nowhere and he generated impressive power for such a sudden motion. He may be a bit too confident for his own good (as observed above — his constant efforts to carry the ball past however many defenders are in his way may not be the brightest use of the ball) but surely strikers need that? Whereas with poor old Nando you could actually see the delay between brain and foot. It’s like he has to negotiate a little crisis of confidence just to shift the ball from one side to the other, let alone actually attempt a shot. (The exception was his backheel for the disallowed goal right at the beginning.)

    Overall though I was impressed. In a funny sort of way it wasn’t like watching Chelsea. I can’t really remember the last time we seemed to be set up for that kind of linked steady passing game, fluid without the kind of aggressive directness that we had under José and in Carlo’s first year and a quarter. It suited Obi particularly well, I thought: he and Meireles looked very good, gathering up the ball and shifting it on.

    It probably all needs to happen 50% faster before it’ll start worrying the teams who do it better that we do, but it’s still interesting to see.

    Agreed (by the way) that the ref was appalling. And not just because of the ghastly lilac outfits. He whistled for absolutely everything. They kept flashing the match stats up on the big screen and I think by the 75th minute or so there had been 35 fouls. Ridiculous.

    Luiz … he may be barmy but you’ve got to love him. It’s like he single-handedly decided it was time to score. He started that move by waving everyone ahead of him forward: you could see he’d decided on an upfield charge. Then off he went, and he looked like Essien at his best, ploughing through everything and everyone.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Ref was typically European and very picky – quite frustrating at times as there were moments a decent free-flowing game was trying to break out, much to his apparent annoyance.

      Virtually everything I’ve seen written about Luiz today starts with “He shouldn’t have been on the pitch, but…”; just one of those players, I suppose.  Mata gets you off of your seat, Luiz just makes you – how do I put this politely – clench a little… 

  7. Cunningplan

    The argument with Luiz as to should he have been on the pitch or not.
    The first tackle was late rather than malicious, and replays showed he kicked the Leverkusen player under his studs as his foot was raised. If he was booked for that, would he have commited the rather lazy pull back knowing that would have certainly got a yellow?

    • John

      I agree the Luiz thing isn’t an argument – no reason for him to have been off the pitch. Not a convincing defender for me though…..On the report, I agree Mata the best player by a mile; also that Sturridge looks to have something about him, but he needs to learn to make better choices about when and where to try the trickery rather than the simple hold-lay off. The only thing I disagree with is the positive verdict on Torres, who I thought was again pretty shite. He wa sbetter but he’s starting from a very low base. Two decent assists don’t add up to a good performance when most of the rest was poor – control, effort, chance-taking all lacking again and he looks more and more like our biggest in a long list of transfer fuck-ups. Of course I hope I’m wrong. Actually I think that’s the problem with those who think he’s ok/lacking confidence/suffering from how we play – it’s hope triumphing over what’s actually happening.

  8. Anonymous

    With Luiz you know there’s a goal a game in him.  Problem is you can’t be sure at which end.

    With his first tackle I think he was faking injury because he was scared that, if he stood up, the ref would wave the red card.

  9. John

    And by the way, fantastic picture at the top. The quality of the writing by reporters has been fantastic for a long while, and ditto the comment/debate. These pictures show a wit, imagination and eye for design that puts other crap on the web to shame. A pleasure to read. Thanks.

  10. Cunningplan

    I see the Manchester juggernaut has come to a screeching halt, I wonder what the current Manc loving pundits will make of it all.

    I personally don’t think he was faking injury, he kicked the other players studs, and what I’ve seen from similar things over the years, it can be painful.

    • NorthernVA

      Cunningplan the Manc pundits will call it a good point as opposed to what it truly was. Fact: United bailed out once again by a 37 or 38 year old Welshman. I’m truly shocked the “White Pele” didn’t notch a goal tonight.

      I’m 100% with you Mark we can make some noise up north this weekend and should. CFC the Pride of London.

  11. Ososdeoro

    Excuses galore. That wasn’t the first string, by and large. Of course, the proudly note quite regularly that SAF is out to win all the time, but that will be forgotten momentarily. And if they beat us of course drawing at Benfica will have been all part of the plan.

  12. Anonymous

    The bigger issue with Torres is surely that none of us want to admit we’ve spunked £50m on a dud. We’ll cling to a couple of assists here and there, and a slight glimpse of the ‘Nando of old every 90 minutes because we have to believe things will get better.

    Should have sent the pennies to Meeeeelan in exchange for Pato.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Had an amusing conversation with someone who is adamant that Luiz should be converted into a midfielder immediately as he’s too error prone; might work, I suppose, but I can’t see the wisdom of blowing £25m on a centre back and then moving him somewhere else because he has a few rough edges.

      I asked what, by using that logic, we should convert Torres to given that he appears to have forgotten how to score goals.  No response has been forthcoming…

  13. Dylbo Baggins

    I hear they’ve given Mata a locker next to Nando…It certainly seems that the old “spanish connection” trick with Mata is the last of a long line of excuses for Torres- the next couple of games or never for the kid. 

    Still have the feeling that all (!) Nando needs is a cheeky hat trick, say, this weekend?

  14. Anonymous

    Andre Villas-Boas was born in October 1977 – five months after Sir Alex won his first trophyIn 38 Premier League meetings, Man Utd have won 11, Chelsea 13 and 14 have been draws

  15. bluebayou

    Inspired by the superb picture atop the column, here are the player ratings by Bayer Brands and Trademarks.

    Chech                Levitra (can be relied on to keep his end up)
      (it’s a treatment for erectile dysfunction)
    Bosingwa           Canestan (his odd lapse can still bring you out in a rash)
    Ivanovic              Polyurethane (durable and flexible)
    Luiz                   Heroin (it’s all about the highs and lows)
    Cole                  Aleve (“All Day Strong All Day Long”)
    Meireles             Alka-Seltzer (adds a touch of plink plink fizz)
    Mikel                 Polycarbonate (some say bullet proof, some say lightweight)
    Malouda             Supradyn (to “release his natural inner energy and look alive rather than just awake)
    Sturridge           Redoxon (effervescent and quite tasty)
    Torres               Aspirin (a massive headache all round)
    Matta                Rennie (seems to help with that midfield indigestion)
    Anelka and Lampard       Nazol (shortly after they came on we were all breathing more easily)
    Alex       Actron (pain free)

  16. Vik Sohonie

    All the talk of Torres living up to expectations and the impact – albeit good – of the new signings detracts praise from a manager who, so far, has done a damn decent job. 

    Apart from the draw to stoke – who have a mean defense – we’ve won every match even with a slow tempo and somewhere in between second and third gear. 

    United and City can free score all they want, it won’t last forever. We were doing the same thing this time last season. 

    We’ve been efficient and have improved every single match, conforming more and more to AVB’s playing style – his grand plan. Plan A would be how he sets out his match and, when things aren’t going the way they should – I believe that’s been in every single match so far – he definitely has a Plan B, which has worked. Most recently, AVB confirmed that Luiz’s goal against Leverkusen was right off the training ground. He’s positioning players correctly and clearly knows a thing or two about man (and ego) management – again, so far. 

    The respect of the dressing room looks to be his pretty solidly, but one would think he earned that as his time as chief opposition scout. He might’ve had a genuine problem as a 33 year old outsider just rolling up into the Drogba-Lampard-Terry triumvirate that is the Chelsea first team. Oh yeah, he’s wisely lessening their influence and the degree to which the club rely on them too – quietly and quickly doing the restructuring job he was hired to do. 

    United will not only go a long way in telling all of us where both teams stand this season but also show us if this gaffer really is as brilliant as his touchline confidence and press-room demeanor make him out to be. Having said that, a marginal loss doesn’t mean he’s out of his depths either. A heavy loss? Well, yeah.. maybe. 

    But, I take back what I said about us not being able to match United’s tempo and pace at Old Trafford. Something tells me this cheeky bastard has a plan C and D – just as Mourinho would – to beat that referee-shagging team in their officiating brothel of a stadium. 

    Let’s give it up – so far – for Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas (cool name eh?). I don’t think he’ll let us down in Manchester.

  17. Cunningplan

    Another observation with AVB, is that in my book he’s a cross between Carlo and Jose when it comes to speaking to the media. Very polite, honest and humble, but is also  quite prepared to give short shrift when it comes to protecting the players and the team.
    I certainly think he’s a very intelligent, and quite a political animal, which I’m sure he’ll fine tune to serve us well over the coming years. ( I say years in the hope he’s given a chance)

    • Der_Kaiser

      Yes, comes across pretty well, doesn’t he?  Early days, but I like the way he’s handling the squad – there was some hoo-ha in the media about Lamps and JT being left out the other night, but he managed the questions well and ultimately he got the right result.  As long as he keeps doing that, there is no case to answer on that front.

  18. Anonymous

    I’m only a beginner in Fergish. I’ve just about mastered the very basics, which are:

    1) “There’s no doubt about that” means “I have just told the media an obviously outrageous lie.”

    2) “There’s no doubt at all about that” means “I have just told the media an obviously outrageous lie and I know they are too afraid of me even to hint at saying so because if they do I will insult them and then refuse to speak to them for eight years.”

  19. Cunningplan

    This is all bravado from you guys in thinking you’ve mastered or even remotely mastered Fergish.
    Star Trek have something called the Universal Translator, I’m afraid even that would struggle to work out what he says or means. 😉

  20. Cunningplan

    This may be heresy on this blog, but should start feeling sorry for Wenger and Arsenal?

    I’ve given it some thought…. and nah not really.

  21. Anonymous

    The fact that Blackburn scored 4 against Arsenal’s ‘strengthened defence’ makes Utd’s 8 less impressive.  I’m getting more confident by the minute!

  22. bluebayou

    It’s taken some time for the realisation to dawn, but watching MOTD I now see that punditry lacks authority when not delivered from behind a desk with a full modesty board. The single chair when live at a game is acceptable but the MOTD sofa has to go. It signals breakfast tv style pointless ephemera rather than serious matters of great import. It’s how Stelling achieves his authority and gravitas. He’s behind a desk.

    I can’t stress enough the importance of the front modesty board. I remember a cheap tv channel (several came and went in the early nineties) covering one of our early ventures in Europe under Hoddle. You could see knees and socks and trousers and groins. A very troubling nights viewing.

    • Anonymous

      So true!

      A [very large] modesty board was much needed on Channel 4’s Sunday night coverage of the NFL which started last weekend with Danny Kelly’s beergut spilling all over the screen behind his untucked shirt.

      Deeply troublesome sight, indeed.

  23. Anonymous

    Have we picked a midfield today?

    Probably the weakest Utd side we’ve faced in years. And theyre taking the piss. We look abysmal. No communication.

    Ramires had been utter dog shit.

  24. Cunningplan

    Totally disagree Fiftee, we’ve played bloody well and should at least be level, but they score two goals which should have been flagged offside and another which had more to do with luck and skill.
    Football has thrown up one of these games which sometimes mystifies people.

  25. Anonymous


    Fair enough. The first two decisions were pretty shit but, regardless, the first is a free-header and the second we stood off and allowed too much time. Even the third they sliced through us, not a single challenge made.

    Has Fernando just started the comeback? And is that the end of Lamps as a starter?

  26. Anonymous

    Two goals from offside no doubt about it, bloody linesman!!! It must have been at least 1:1 and nothing else., so far at least.

  27. bluebayou

    For Rooney – ahard lesson in what happens when the implant doesn’t take properly

    For myself? I have no idea what to think.

    But in modern football the cliche is so important and it’s vital to get yours in early at this level.

    Mine is -“against a team like United you have to take your chances”

    • Cunningplan

      No doubting you have to take your chances, but what I saw today is a team that has nothing to fear from any Premiership team. We countinue to progress like that, and we’ll be fine, and certainly challenging.

      A quick note on the officiating, Mr Dowd (apart from the lino who should have flagged two offsides) was too eager to give Utd the benefit of the doubt on a few decisions, and the yellow card for Ramires was ridiculous, and the penalty on Nani was also rather generous.

      That certainly wasn’t a 3-1 game in favour of Utd, long way to go yet.

    • Anonymous

      Well said, Sir, now sit back and look superior at the number of times that phrase is used by pundits/ press reports 😉

  28. BlueJohn

    We are just not clinical enough in front of goal at the moment … that was the difference today. Score could have been 4-4 quite easily if we had taken our chances. That said, at least we are creating chances which is more then can be said under CA. I thought taking Frank off for Anelka was pure genius and shows that AVB knows what he is doing. Frank was having a really poor game and Nico made an instant impact. 

    Apart from that awful miss, I thought this was Torres best game for us so far. Good movement and could have had a hat trick. Foot work was silky as well. If he keeps this up then we are looking good. 

    Overall, not the end of the world. This Manu team is on fire at the mo and we are under new management. The return leg at Stamford bridge should be a different story. 

    God Bless Romans blue army


  29. Anonymous

    Thought Torres was very good but that was a shocking miss. Could be the nail in his coffin…,,

    Looked so much more purposeful without Lamps. But still so slow compared to Utd. And they had wingers to help out their full-backs. We did not. Cole and Bosingwa were over-exposed at times.

    Impressed by Sturridge again. He, Torres, Nico and Drogs (and maybe Kalou) give us enough numbers to play up front. Lukaku needs to go out on loan, he looked way off the pace when he came on. The last 15 minutes were just horribly frustrating. There was no urgency. We’re 2 goals behind and still taking stupid short freekicks on the edge of our box. Carelessly losing the ball in midfield (why bring Mikel on when chasIng the game? Mereiles is far more of an attcking threat).

    Very disappointing result. Before the game I thought we’d get stuffed. We did, but by the officials and by bad luck. 5 points at this stage already is a decent gap for them at the top. We’ll have to improve markedly in games against the other top sides if we’re to contend.

  30. Vik Sohonie

    As I said, Villas Boas did not let us down in Manchester.  Tactics, half-time team talk, and substitutions all spot on.  In some alternate reality, we won this match 6-3. 

Comments are closed.