Chelsea 1 Steaua Bucharest 0: Three talking points
Chelsea 1 Steaua Bucharest 0: Three talking points as Jose Mourinho's men edge past their Romanian opponents
Mission accomplished for Chelsea
This was not the greatest performance from Chelsea but there is no such thing as an easy game in the Champions League and they did what was required of them. The Blues never got out of third gear as they controlled 69 per cent of the possession but would have loved to have really given their confidence a bigger boost following the defeat at Stoke on Saturday. Laurentiu Reghecampf did well to learn from the mistakes his side made from the hammering they took in the sides’ first meeting. On that night, they were completely stretched by Chelsea’s pace but on Wednesday they kept a narrow shape and did not allow this to happen. The likes of Oscar found it difficult to devastate to full effect. They kept tabs on Demba Ba for large periods and no other Chelsea player had the physical presence to trouble their compact style. Had it not been for one poorly defended set piece they may have emerged from Stamford Bridge with a point. As it was, Chelsea secured top spot and will avoid the giants of the European scene. This match however will serve as a stark reminder in preparation for ‘easier’ knockout opposition because it proves, to repeat, there is no such thing as an easy game in the Champions League.
Lampard revels in Mikel presence
John Obi Mikel is a player that is fighting to stake a claim for a more regular starting spot but also prove that he is good enough to stay at the club following seven unspectacular years. He will have done neither of those against Steaua without being woeful. But as the only out-and-out holding midfielder, he does bring one quality – allowing Frank Lampard to get forward. Chelsea can still play three of their younger playmakers in front of the club’s all-time leading scorer but Mikel’s presence allows Lampard to be the link between the lines rather than simply sit in front of the defence. On four occasions against Steaua, he received the ball in a pocket of space outside the box, a position he was the best in the world at exploiting, and unleash shots on goal. On this particular evening, none of them were particularly testing efforts but his long-range strikes have diminished somewhat with age as he is forced to play more defensively. Against West Ham, the only league game the pair have started together, Lampard proved that he still has what it takes to play there with a sweetly struck goal from the edge of the box. He would not have been able to get into this position playing alongside Ramires. There will be games where other systems will have to be used but it is certainly something for Jose Mourinho to consider.
Wake up Georgievski, the nightmare is over
To say that Daniel Georgievski had a terrible game would actually be as unfair as Uefa’s original decision to credit the Chelsea goal to him rather than Ba. By correctly giving the goal to the Senegalese striker, they have though robbed him of a place in west London pub quiz folklore after inadvertently notching for the Blues in Romania. In that game, he was being publicly mocked by the entire Sky Sports team. When a slight graze of Ba’s shin pad was all that prevented him from registering a tenth minute own goal, it looked like he may be in for a similar evening. The fact that the slow-motion camera spared his blushes is unlikely to stop him from being remembered as a prolific Chelsea striker, comparatively speaking. To his credit he looked fired up by this and made some good challenges at times but he did not look entirely comfortable, especially when October’s tormentor-in-chief, Andre Schurrle, was introduced. It is fair to say he will be looking forward to facing easier tests in the Romanian League from now on.