Nemanja Matic snapped last night. In the 81st minute of Serbia’s final qualifying game he was sent off for a wild swing of the arm after a late tackle on him.
I’m not sure he made contact, at most it glanced the head of the Portuguese player who without doubt was going to make the most of it. But the point is that the intent was definitely there from Matic. He didn’t know what he was going to hit and if it had made contact then he would probably be in even more hot water.
The game itself was already at boiling point and threatening to spill over. Man City’s Kolarov had just been sent off two minutes earlier for picking up a second yellow card in a bad tempered game which ended with 9 yellow cards and 2 reds.
Laughably the game was already a dead rubber. Portugal had already qualified top of their group while after the 2-1 defeat, Serbia second bottom of the group on 4 points (just 2 points above lowly Armenia).
The thought entered my head that perhaps the boiling over is down to more than the game against Portugal. Is this something that’s been building up inside for a player that was one of Chelsea’s best and most consistent last year and so far this season has been nullified.
He certainly seems to be less effective.
I’ve even considered whether Jose might be tempted to start Zouma, or at least Loftus-Cheek in his role. Which feels strange because he’d have been one of the first names on the teamsheet every game last season for me (but then again I’d have said the same about Ivanovic).
At club level, he seems have been figured out by his Premier League opposition so far this season. Aside from a wonder goal against Everton, in his job as Chelsea’s destroyer he’s been largely ineffective. At least much less reliable than last season.
Hopefully this red card is something of a watershed moment for Matic. A release if you like. Something he needed to get out of his system and now we’ll see the Matic we know and love.
Time will tell, but I fear he may be dropped for this weekend’s game against Villa. Maybe Loftus-Cheek will get his chance in a game we’re expected to win. Either way, Matic needs to figure out where he’s gone wrong and correct his path as soon as possible, his team and his manager need him.