Azonto Epistle 19: A Super Cup Heart Break, Taking The Positives
The last time Chelsea experienced a last minute shocker, was against Barcelona, I mean Referee Tom Henin Ovrebo’s Barcelona in 2009. It was tough to take and I believe it’s one of those days many Chelsea fans find it hard to forget for the wrong reasons beside the Moscow debacle. Well, during those days, did you imagine 19/05/2012 would ever happen? That’s football, the beautiful football which is full of uncertainty. That Javier Martinez goal reminded me of how painful it was for Benfica after that Ivanovic header which defied gravity in the air and sloooooooowly but painfully for Benfica fans descended majestically into the net for a Europa Cup trophy to be added to our list of trophy counts and setting us up for this glorified ceremonial encounter akin to International Community Shield against Bayern Munich. Of all the teams you would want to lose such less important trophy to, as a Chelsea fan, I believe it is Bayern Munich you would gladly do. Forget about the Guardiola factor because everyone knows what Bayern has achieved in the couple of years before him. I mean, if they were so gracious enough to make our Champions League win become more memorable with their “Our City, Our Stadium…YOUR TROPHY” headlines, why don’t we give them a little consolation by dispassionately handing them the Super Cup of less importance? I know it will be a bit difficult for the Oliver Twists among us but come on, less make Bastian Schweinsteiger a little happy and help him recover from that upset which will forever hunt him Whiles we will forever enjoy it. so, this Cup I believe, should be called the Schweisteiger Cup of Consolation.
According to statistics, it took Chelsea 13seconds to make an 8-metre counter attack involving 3 different players (Eden Hazard, Andre Schurlle & Fernando Torres). Before the game, Guardiola described Mourinho as the “the master of counter attacks” well, it is one thing identifying a problem and another thing dealing with it (successfully). This shows how tactically astute Jose is and which I know it’s an understatement. In fact, looking at the quality at Bayern’s disposal, the experience and the confidence they have gained on the back of their recent successes, I expected a tougher opposition from them. However, its not because they failed to play meticulously like against Barcelona, but because of the opposition Chelsea gave them. Tactically, we were superior. We knew exactly what to do any time we had the ball and that is one of the hallmarks of Jose Mourinho’s teams. The difference between this team and that of last year, so far, apart from everything has been the strong start we have in games. It is always to take a proactive position than be reactive and it applies to all fields in life apart from football and that is exactly what Chelsea have being doing. I know the Mourinho fear factor among opposition sides is part of it since they don’t want to take the gang ho approach against a team with superb counter attack machine but the confidence and the intensity of our game are always up there from the star. We always had the game under control and scored whenever we had to. Some people find it hard to believe what Jose said that the best team lost. Apart from using it to motivate the boys, there was every truth in it. It was a purposeful and an efficient Chelsea side against an experienced Bayer Munich team who relied on individual brilliance. Tactically, they were nullified, Robben had no chance to pull his strings and any time Ribery had the ball he was surrounded by 3 players (Andre Schurrle , Ivanovic, Torres). He only had his moment, the same way as Hazard had his. Besides, to play a high tempo game for about 40 minutes with a man down and still take the lead and hold on till the referee decided not to blow his whistle was something special and don’t forget, the score line at the end of open play was 2 – 2.
The Andre Schurrle Factor and the Issue of “MAZACAR”
Good managers know when to pick their line up for every match. No two teams are the same and various tactics are employed to counter specific threat of an opposing team. Since last year, we have been used to the Hazard-Mata-Oscar combination which many call it the MAZACAR. When Benitez took over from Di Matteo, he tried Victor Moses on the right side to strengthen our width and due to the level of quality and experience of Moses, it didn’t become the favorite combination. However, Moses on occasions showed why we need width and a good right winger. Oscar has proven to be a natural No. 10 and that position happens to be the favorite position of Juan Mata. Although Mata has not been fully fit from the start of the season, it is apparent that, Oscar has made that position his, due to his hard work and his all-round contribution to our play from the middle. And no wonder Jose has spoken of the fact that he intends to use Mata on the right wing who can cut inside with his left foot known as inverted winger. However, this position will have to be fought for with other players which include Andre Schurrle. Schurrle likes to operate from the left wing but Hazard is phenomenal in that position. With Andre, you get a strong athletic player who can attack and defend well at the same time. He didn’t get off on a fly during preseason but he has worked his way to the team and based on his recent performances which have been nothing but impressive, he is definitely staking a claim for that position. He is the typical efficient German who does not over elaborate on the ball and does the most important things correctly. His crosses were timely impeccable and his recovery is great. Against Bayern, he could have had two great assists had Oscar been able to finish his one-on-one with Neuer. This increase in depth and quality in the team will give Jose a good headache and all the players a strong message to fight for their positions. Mata is a brilliant player and I know he will work himself into the starting spot but no one should assume some players should have automatic place in the team. I know with the inclusion of Willian, who also comes with another dynamic, the quest to break into the first eleven becomes keener. However, my utmost appeal is that, we should get behind the team and every player who has worked himself into the starting eleven. Being “fan boys” and “fan girls” of some players only will not make us enjoy the great future ahead of our team. Jose has proven to be a man who believes in meritocracy and every player must earn his position.
The future is bright and the fighting spirit among the boys on big stage makes it sweeter. If Hazard can put up strong performances on big platforms like he did against Bayern, then the Sky is his limit. Lukaku showed that he cares about the team when he missed the penalty and I believe the message Drogba and Luiz have given him will help him in the future. Oscar has always been phenomenal, he was everywhere on the pitch getting the kicks and still sticking it in. His composure when he took the penalty goes to show the kind of gem we have in our hands. David Luiz is always an inspiration to the boys and his great pass to Hazard for the second goal makes him the Geezer we know. Ramires is a fighter and very soon he will get the needed plaudits he deserves in the team. Peter Cech is the best keeper in the world whether you agree or not, Lampard,great; Ivanovic, solid; Cole, consistent; Cahill, savior; Torres, class is permanent; and Jose Mourinho, One of us- the sight of him on the touch line urging our fans on to shout for the boys during those last embers of the game nearly put me in tears. I know there will be great memories ahead of us to share together as a family.
Seth Adusei (twitter @sethaadusei)