Chelsea 2 Juventus 2: Lessons as Blues kick off title defence with draw
Chelsea 2 Juventus 2: What lessons did we learn as Roberto Di Matteo's men were held to a draw by the Italian champions?
Oscar announces himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful
Roberto Di Matteo will have raised a few eyebrows when he opted to throw Chelsea new-boy Oscar in at the deep end by handing him a starting spot against the Italian champions after making just three substitute appearances in the league. But any doubts over his selection were emphatically put to bed by the 33rd minute, when the Blues found themselves 2-0 up thanks to a brilliant quick-fire brace from the Brazilian starlet. The 21-year-old gave the Londoners the lead in the 31st minute, when his powerful low effort fizzed past Gianluigi Buffon, aided by a deflection off Giorgio Chiellini. And Oscar grabbed his second two minutes later, flicking the ball past Andrea Pirlo and running around the Italian as if he were a training cone before caressing a superb right-footed effort into the top-right corner. Not a bad Champions League debut for the boy from Americana, who along with Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, looks to be a source of the flair Chelsea have been accused of lacking in recent years.
Juventus worthy of a point
Ahead of Wednesday’s clash, the Serie A champions had not won on their last 11 competitive outings on English soil, and had triumphed just twice in 19 clashes away to English opposition. And although this draw stretches that unfavourable record, i Bianconeri deserved something from the game as they carved out a host of opportunities with some impressive, probing play at Stamford Bridge, enjoying 53 per cent of the possession in the first 70 minutes. After falling 2-0 behind, their attacking prowess was rewarded in the first half when Arturo Vidal’s swivel on the edge of the box wrong-footed the Chelsea defence, before the Chilean swept a low shot into the bottom-right corner. And Fabio Quagliarella rescued a point for the Old Lady in the 81st minute when he poked his strike through Petr Cech’s legs after John Obi Mikel had wastefully given away possession. They could have won it too, when Quagliarella’s looping shot bounced off the crossbar in the 87th minute. Few would argue that Antonio Conte’s men, back in the Champions League after a two-year absence, were not worthy of their point.
Chelsea get “impossible” title defence off to shaky start
Di Matteo challenged his side to “do the impossible” and become the first team to defend the Champions League title ahead of Wednesday’s clash – and on this showing, the Blues look set to have their work cut out if they are to hold on to Europe’s top prize. However, despite the setback of a home draw – they won all six of their home games last term – Di Matteo’s men should still emerge from their group unscathed. The history books stack the odds in the holders’ favour: the west Londoners have always reached the knockout round of the competition, finishing as group winners in seven of their last nine campaigns. But a tough trip to Turin for the return leg and clashes with Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk and Danish league winners Nordsjaelland should not be taken lightly. And Di Matteo is under no illusions about the task that lies ahead: “It’s a very competitive Champions League this year, even probably stronger and more difficult than last year,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult group for us.” And squandering a 2-0 lead at home in their opener is a less-than-ideal start.