Olympiakos 0 – 0 Chelsea

Match reports

The Times, Matt Hughes: “Grant was employed to echo Ruud Gullit by introducing sexy football, but this performance was about as attractive as one of his ill-fitting tracksuits.”

The Independent, Jason Burtat: “Chelsea had arrived in Athens in a fierce snowstorm which prevented many of their fans from making it to the game and, although the snows melted, the football stayed frozen. Some of those supporters had taken up offers from airlines which had cancelled flights to head somewhere else. It proved a wise choice. There were flares in the stands but not much flair on the pitch.”

The Guardian, David Hytner: “The dream remains alive, after a tense stalemate in the Greek capital gave Chelsea the upper hand in this last-16 meeting. Avram Grant’s eye-opening selection gamble of leaving out John Terry, the captain, and Frank Lampard did not return in any haunting manner and he could be pleased with the application of his charges, as the business end of the season got under way.”

Daily Telegraph, John Ley: “Avram Grant will have to wait to discover, both in the Carling Cup at Wembley on Sunday and at Stamford Bridge a fortnight today, whether his gamble to rest key players here last night was a prudent one. But, having kept their fifth successive clean sheet in Europe and with an unbeaten home record in the Champions League going back two years, they will face Olympiakos in London in confident mood.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “It won’t necessarily be easy in the London second leg, but Chelsea will be strong favourites to progress.”

The good

  1. Uh… the scoreline? Described as a valuable draw by some, and a solid performance by others. An away goal would’ve been nice though. Then again I have a feeling that Olympiakos could play for three hours at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight’s time and not even get close to scoring, so toothless was their attack. We have the upper hand and hold the initiative etc.

The bad

  1. Perhaps not quite as bad as the Liverpool game, but it came very close. In that game we had the excitement of watching Liverpool attempt to score; Olympiakos had even less desire than us.
  2. Our distinct lack of ambition. Olympiakos were definitely there for the taking yet Grant chose to play for a goalless draw. Oh well, at least he’s stopped parroting about entertainment. I feel for the sixteen hundred fans who made the journey to watch the game: apparently it was only the fourth time it has snowed in Athens in the last forty years.
  3. The Coles. Wayne Bridge should be our first choice left-back ahead of Ashley Cole. Cole is an imbecile off the pitch and on it he rarely justifies his starting place. If he plays on Sunday ahead of Bridge, then Bridge has every right to feel aggrieved. It has been rumoured in some newspapers that Bridge will seek a transfer if he’s overlooked. Joe Cole is a shadow of the player he was under Jose Mourinho.
  4. I honestly don’t think Didier Drogba is fit. He didn’t look a hundred percent during the Africa Cup of Nations. I’m just hoping that the recent knee operation hasn’t blunted his speed and power. If it has – and this is probably a tad premature and controversial – it might be time to cash in.

Player ratings

The two Coles – 5/10. The remainder – 6/10.

Man of the Match

Juliano Belletti. At least he can cross a ball.

Final thoughts

The height of Grant’s ambition was to not concede a goal, hence his “brave” decision to drop both Frank Lampard and John Terry.

Alex and Ricardo Carvalho have been in excellent form in recent weeks, as have Michael Ballack and Claude Makelele. With Petr Cech between the sticks it was never going to be a “gamble” dropping Lampard and Terry.

If we play as badly against Spurs in the League Cup final on Sunday and, God forbid, lose, will Grant ever be forgiven?

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