Chelsea’s bad form this week continued in the Champions League opener game against Basel as Jose Mourinho tested his first defeat at Stamford Bridge. After defending and staying behind the ball for much of the first half, FC Basel came out in 2nd half a much different team than at first. Star player Mohammed Salah scored an equalizer through a beautiful curling effort and then their captain, Streller scored a header from a corner.
Chelsea had 56 per cent possession, nine corners, six attempts on target but only Oscar’s fine strike just before half-time. The Brazilian worked hard throughout the first half, tracking back as well as contributing to Chelsea’s 62 per cent possession. They should have built on that lead but stood off and opened up, allowing Basel to flood through. A poor finishing and horrible performance by most of the players resulted in a first defeat at home for Jose Mourinho. Now, after two successive defeats, we must bounce back against Fulham on Saturday in west London derby.
Chelsea dominated possession from the beginning as FC Basel defended heavily by staying in their own half and by threatening through the breaks in counterattack. Chelsea, missing the guile of Juan Mata, were unable to unlock the Swiss defence in a ponderous opening. Willian had some promising touches and an Oscar corner had Yann Sommer flapping, only for the goalkeeper to be granted a free-kick. Chelsea’s first real effort on goal came after 26 minutes, when Eto’o turned Fabian Schar and found Eden Hazard, who blasted over from the edge of the area. Basel were playing with men behind the ball but fired a warning on the break when Salah cut inside and shot over.
Chelsea despite having a lot of possession struggled to get a good scoring chance and when the chances arrive, Samuel Eto’o and co. misfired until the minute before the first half whistle. Oscar broke the deadlock for Chelsea on the stroke of half-time with a fine finish into the bottom corner after being played in by Frank Lampard after a good build up play by David Luiz.
After the break, Chelsea confident and little under estimating Basel by thinking we had rapped up the 3 points looked careless in getting back and defending especially the midfield 5 including Lampard and Van Ginkel. Oscar continued to play really well by creating chances and finding spaces. Willian looked out of place as he wasn’t able to emulate his last season’s stunning display against Chelsea with Shaktar on the same pitch.
Oscar struck the bar with a curling effort early in the second period as Chelsea, prompted by Mourinho’s interval intervention, began the second period with more purpose. Ivanovic headed straight at Sommer from a Lampard corner and Hazard drilled over when he should have hit the target after being found by Oscar. Mourinho introduced Mata for Willian with 23 minutes remaining, but soon after Basel equalised.
Chelsea’s pursuit of all three points left them exposed and Streller won a corner. From the set-piece Streller evaded the attentions of Eto’o and Cahill to head substitute Matias Delgado’s corner in at the near post. Cech might have done better, too. The match ended with a victory to the Swiss champs as Chelsea were unable to unlock their defense despite huge effort from Ivanovic, Luiz, Oscar and Eto’o in particular. Players like Juan Mata and Ashley Cole didn’t run and provide impetus when Basel were counterattacking in the break. Mata misplaced some bad crosses and was not capable of defending by tracking up which is the reason Oscar is favored to the Spaniard in the no. 10 role.
There are much things to change for Mourinho in tactics and players for the next game against Fulham in the London derby coming up in the weekend. The ‘beautiful young eggs’ that Jose referred to have embarrassingly let him down. Now it’s just a wonder if Jose will continue with this misfiring line-up or make drastic changes to get us back into winning ways after a 4 game win less run for the blues.