Chelsea FC: Blues escape Madrid with goalless stalemate

Chelsea FC limped out of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid with a scoreless draw.  The Blues’ trip to Madrid did not end the way Jose Mourinho wanted.  The scoreline may be even 90 minutes into the tie, but Chelsea took a beating in the match.

Three days after a devastating loss to cellar dweller Sunderland, the Blues needed a strong result against the Spanish club to get some positive momentum.  Mourinho played a very conservative lineup in the first leg of this tie.  It is obviously important to score away goals, but Chelsea have conceded unnecessary goals away from home, and the manager surely wanted to prevent that.

Petr Cech returned to goal and was joined by Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ashley Cole in defense.  The two holding midfielders were Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel.  Nemanja Matic is ineligible to compete in the Champions League for Chelsea this season.  The attacking midfield had a Brazilian flavor to it today.  Willian and Ramires were joined by the defensive minded David Luiz.  Fernando Torres, facing his former club, led the line.

The game had an edginess to it from the beginning that foreshadowed the end result.  It was evident from the start that it was going to be a scrappy affair.  Chelsea were clearly digging in and were attempting to outlast the home team.  Stamford Bridge has been the site of incredible results for the Blues this season, and the Londoners definitely wanted to return home with a favorable scenario.

The two teams traded corner kicks after fifteen minutes for the first excitement of the match.  Cech was forced to come off, his shoulder clearly ailing him, in the eighteenth minute.  Mark Schwarzer, the scapegoat for the Sunderland loss, replaced the Czech keeper.  Chelsea fans could not have been happy with this development.

Luckily, Schwarzer’s second appearance in as many matches had a different result than the first.  Coming out with a draw was a small victory for the Blues, but that was the only positive from the match.   John Terry was also forced off 72 minutes in with a leg injury.

There were also three yellow cards accrued by the Blues.  Lampard, Mikel, and substitute Demba Ba were all disciplined by the referee.  Mikel will be forced to miss the home leg against Atletico Madrid.  This will put Mourinho into a tricky spot.  Without Matic and Mikel, it is unclear who will join Lampard in the holding role.

Luiz could easily slip into that role, but he may be needed in the center of defense.  Terry will need to be replaced if he is still injured.  Ramires could also fill in for Mikel if needed.

Scoreless after one match, it seems even on paper for the two teams.  Stamford Bridge has been a fortress for the Blues all season, but there will be some doubts after last weekend’s disappointing loss.  Losing Cech and Terry for the match would be a huge blow for the Blues.  Holding their opponent without a goal in the first match will definitely give the Blues confidence though.  It will be an incredibly difficult match, but the Blues can come out on top with another strong performance and a bit of luck.