Chelsea FC: Stalemate against Galatasaray

A draw was the final result for Chelsea FC as Galatasaray scored a late equalizer in the teams’ first match of their final sixteen tie in Champions League action.  Fernando Torres scored the opener in the ninth minute, and it looked as though the hosts might be overwhelmed, but the Blues could not capitalize on this early lead.

Pregame proceedings were dominated by the fact that Didier Drogba was facing his former club for the first time.  Drogba, hero of the 2012 Champions League Final for the Blues, was clearly happy to see many of his former teammates, but it was business for both sides as soon as the whistle blew.

The home side seemed to be lost as Cesar Azpilicueta and Andre Schürrle advanced up the left side quickly with the move ending with Fernando Torres finishing nicely from close range.  It seemed as though the Blues would cruise with an early lead after nine minutes.

That wasn’t the case as Chelsea failed to score again despite dominating the entire first half.  Wasting chances proved costly for the Blues as Galatasaray managed to score late off of a corner kick.  Chedjou scored with a clean volley from short range past a helpless Petr Cech.  John Terry was beaten for the goal.

The second half had already gone for the worse for Chelsea, and the Blues then changed to a more defensive mindset and were merely playing to get out with a draw by the end.  The home fans were raucous and the Blues seemed to be completely overwhelmed and will feel lucky to get the draw.

Obviously a draw is never the goal in an important Champions League tie, but this is not the end of the world for the Blues.  Scoring an away goal may prove crucial as the Blues come into the Stamford Bridge rematch with a slight advantage.  Returning home to London will certainly provide a great moral boost for the squad.

Having an important away goal, healthy squad and fantastic fans will all play into Chelsea’s favor in the rematch.  Jose Mourinho is not worried about his team’s chances to advance to the quarterfinals.  The squad knows what their job is, and they will be extremely focused on the task at hand.

What is more worrisome is how Chelsea will handle the rest of the season.  The Blues have played quality football recently, but there have been question marks throughout the past month as the team has struggled to reach that next level of excellence.  A lackluster performance against Manchester City, a last-gasp win against Everton, and a disappointing draw against Galatasaray seem to suggest that Chelsea is not quite elite.

Mourinho has been adamant that Chelsea is not quite there yet, but their position in the Premier League and Champions League led many to believe he was merely being humble.  This may not be the case.  The return fixture at Stamford Bridge will go a long way in showing what this Chelsea team is really made of.