Chelsea 3 – 0 Olympiakos (agg 3 – 0)

Match reports

The Guardian, Stuart James: “It is now 60 matches unbeaten in all competitions for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a record that the Greek champions were never in danger of troubling on an evening when the chasm between the two sides was so great it felt like a trick of the mind that this was a Champions League knock-out tie. Olympiakos were hopelessly out of their depth at this level as Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou exposed their frailties.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Chelsea meted out the same treatment to Olympiakos that the Greeks inflict on their dinner plates. Olympiakos’ defence, as brittle as ancient crockery, was smashed into countless pieces by Chelsea’s superb attacking. The only surprise was that the Londoners managed only three goals.”

The Times, Martin Samuel: “Chelsea were very good, but they did not need to be for long. A goal up after six minutes, two clear after 25, they scored a third from the first attack of the second half and declared the event over.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea will play in the quarter-finals for the fifth time in six Champions League campaigns after a straight-forward victory.”

The goals

5′ Ballack 1-0
25′ Lampard 2-0
48′ Kalou 3-0

Ask any writer what really gets the creative juices flowing and they’ll give you the same answer… drugs… no seriously they’ll answer that the real creative catalyst is angst. Yep, when things are bad then the ‘creative luvvie cells’ in the brain suddenly awaken from their happiness induced torpor, snort a little brain cocaine or serotonin as we call it and have a little ‘rave’ in your head. So, what I’m trying to say is that because this game was so easy, so pleasurable in its mind numbing comfort, this could be a short review… well for me anyway!

The good

  1. The performance. Whilst maybe not as feisty as against West Ham, it has to be said that the levels of professionalism were so high the result was never really in doubt from the warm up.
  2. Michael Ballack. Magnificent in every sense, won headers, scored a goal, made the second (albeit unintentionally), and made some great passes. World class in every sense.
  3. Carlo Cudicini. In fairness had little to do, but did make two good saves from a late-ish free kick when the ref seemed obliged to blow his whistle every 10 seconds… maybe he was trying to wake Olympiakos up. But, what Carlo does do is play the ball to feet more than mindlessly hoofing it up the park. A message for Petr Cech… watch and learn, watch and learn.
  4. Joe Cole. Back to his marauding best and showed a superb piece of control when latching onto a rare Carlo up-field hoof. Unlucky not to score, but seems hell bent on proving a point about his Carling Cup omission.
  5. Ashley Cole. Will play tougher teams but crisp passing, good wing runs showed him to be on his way back to his best. Must be all the… ahem… making up activity with the delightful Mrs Cole. Actually… shouldn’t that make him a bit knackered?
  6. Olympiakos fans. Even when it was obvious they were going out the Greeks kept singing. An example to our rather quiet lot about supporting the team in adversity.

The bad

  1. By request of a certain wit and raconteur who is no stranger to this blog, Fernando Belluschi’s hair has to go in here. Wild, unkempt, outdated, wiry, unwashed apparently and on the head of one of the most blatant divers I’ve seen in a while. Every tackle ended up with him on the floor holding his hand over his nose as if it had been broken. Twat.
  2. Olympiakos. Yes, you can only beat who’s in front of you, but they were poor and seemed resigned from kick off to losing this game and virtually played the whole match in damage limitation mode. Or maybe we were just so brilliant that…
  3. Didier Drogba. Looked disinterested and was definitely off the pace tonight. He can’t complain about lack of service because Salomon Kalou-less, Joey Cole, Frank Lampard and Ballack played to him a lot. His ball control was rubbish; he seemed to be back to his former two-left-feet self and was reduced to taking free kicks. However… he did score a goal that under any interpretation of the laws of the game was not offside. That decision seemed to snuff out any last bit of interest or desire.

Player ratings

  • Carlo Cudicini: Did everything right, made two good saves and showed great distribution – 8/10.
  • Paulo Ferreira: Would have got higher but for a stupid and idiotic booking towards the end of the game – 7/10.
  • John Terry: Slowly, slowly getting back to his best – 7/10.
  • Ashley Cole: Must be glad to be… ahem… back in familiar territory… so to speak – 8/10.
  • Ricardo Carvalho: Games like this are meat and drink to players of his class. Break the bank Roman, break the bank – 8/10.
  • Claude Makelele: Found his passing feet tonight. What I love is he makes a bad tackle, but smiles at everyone and gets off scot free! – 7.5/10.
  • Frank Lampard: As for Terry. Missed a sitter which takes the half mark away and got wrongly booked for diving – 7.5/10.
  • Michael Ballack: An imperious, Germanic, titan-esque, inspiring, magnificent display of mid-Field Marshall-ism. Am I turning into Stuart Hall? I would not want to be on the end of a head butt from this guy – 9/10.
  • Didier Drogba: Something not right here methinks. African hangover? Or is his heart and mind elsewhere. The next few weeks will surely tell all – 4/10.
  • Joe Cole: Maybe losing out in the Carling Cup Final has done him some good. Great at West Ham and again tonight – 8.5/10.
  • Salomon Kalou: Grrr – superb and frustrating in equal measure tonight. Did the hard stuff well, did the easy stuff badly. Barring the tap-in goal of course. Weirdly though, I’m glad to see him back as I still think he has bags of potential – 7/10.
  • Florent Malouda (sub): His highest score! That’s because he wasn’t on long enough to make an arse of himself – 6/10.
  • Michael Essien (sub): Was it just me… or did he look slightly chastened when he came on? I’ve been alarmed at how poor he has been a lot of this season, so perhaps some bench time will re-motivate him – 6/10.
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips (sub): Seems to be slipping back to his alter ego of clumsiness, poor ball control and lack of intelligence, despite only getting 10 minutes – 5/10.
  • Overall team performance: Save for the last 15 minutes when the game was won and we visibly seemed to take a little break, this was a highly professional and clinical display – 8.5/10.

Man of the Match

Michael Ballack. I think I’m beginning to feel the same way as our commenter “Fifty” does about a certain un-nameable Spanish player who we may or may not buy. Brilliant tonight as he has been since his return. Boy could Andriy Shevchenko do with some of Ballack’s… mojo!

Final thoughts

I’ve never written these phrases about one of our games before.

It was a doddle. A stroll. A cake walk. A piece of piss.

Not much else to say, except credit to everyone, including Avram Grant and the coaching team. In all honesty, although I still think the failings that have occurred against the bigger teams are still hanging around like a bad smell, there is no doubt that on our night we can still impress with our capability.

Just one niggling thing… I seem to have detected some… ahem… friction between Drogba and Ballack which is intriguing me. At the Carling Cup Final when Drogba was being a completely spoilt brat with Teemu Tanio, it was Ballack who ran across and shoved Drogba away Gene Hunt style, no doubt backing it up with the German equivalent of “Stop being a tart”. Tonight after Drogba had loused up a truly magnificent through ball from Ballack, when Drogba held his hands up and did the ‘little boy’ look of pained anguish at Ballack, I detected a steely, robotic glare from the German that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original Terminator would have been proud of. That one piercing glare seemed to contain elements of disgust, despair and utter contempt. It was downright scary. Even Drogba looked… well sheepish and a little freaked by it. Did anyone else see this? I will watch this potential development with interest as well!

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!