If there was ever a game to justify Jose Mourinho‘s supposedly misfiring forwards, it was Chelsea‘s 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the opening leg of their Champions League semifinal at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have all come under intense scrutiny and even criticism from their manager this season. To suggest things would be different if Chelsea brought in a different striker of the same ilk to lead the line of attack is far-fetched, assuming they stick to the same formation and style of play.
Chelsea fielded three center-backs, two full-backs and three holding midfielders in their starting 11 on Tuesday night against Diego Simeone‘s Atleti side. To say their lone striker Torres was isolated up front is equivalent to noting that the Pacific Ocean is a nice lake. While it has been a few years since pundits and fans have openly chimed in on the non-footballing tactics of Mourinho, they were ever present this evening in the Spanish capital.
Chelsea played with zero desire to get the win. They weren’t the least bit inclined to threaten their on-loan keeper Thibaut Courtois in the Atletico net. Don’t believe me? Have a gander at the match statistics, specifically the five attempts at goal. That’s how many times Chelsea attempted to put the ball on net in 99 minutes (90 minutes plus nine minutes of combined stoppage time) of play.
Their opposition amassed 26 attempts, 10 of which were able to find the target through the army of men Chelsea had playing behind the ball.
Michael Owen, the 2001 Ballon d’Or winner, agreed on Twitter during the match that any striker would struggle to score 15 goals under these current circumstances at Chelsea. Considering he scored over 200 goals for club and country, the stock in his opinion is relevant.
Getting back to Simeone’s team, credit them for continually trying to find openings despite the figurative bus that was parked in front of the Chelsea net. Some may have chuckled when Diego Costa‘s bicycle attempt from the top of the 18-yard box fluttered wide of the Chelsea goal, but at least he was trying to score, trying to create a moment of brilliance in an otherwise frustrating affair for the home side.
As it stands, the 0-0 scoreline that Mourinho was so intent on getting actually favors Atletico Madrid. Due to the away goals rule, Chelsea will need to beat Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge. A scoring draw (1-1, 2-2, etc.) would see Atletico Madrid progress. If they score one, Chelsea will need two to advance to the Lisbon final, and so on.
To think one goal by Simeone’s men will be enough to advance is wise thinking, assuming Mourinho sticks to the same negative game plan that was on display tonight.