Porto 2 Chelsea 1: Three talking points after Eden Hazard omission

Three talking points as Chelsea suffer a defeat by Porto in the Champions League

By Niall Griffiths

The omission of Hazard

Despite experiencing a frustrating start to his fourth season at Stamford Bridge, it came as a shock to many to see Belgian Eden Hazard among the substitutes on the team-sheet. Fans on social media were left furious by Jose Mourinho’s decision to bench their key player and their fears were proven to be with good reason as a Hazard-less Chelsea side slumped to defeat. While the front three were linking well with the lone Diego Costa to begin with, as soon as Porto began controlling the game, the forward was left isolated. When Hazard did eventually enter the fray, he could do little to influence a game that was out of his side’s hands. While there will be those that say Hazard’s recent poor form gave Mourinho licence to give the forward time out to recuperate, one can’t help but feel that any moment of magic to reverse Chelsea’s fortunes would have come from their star man.

A mixed night for Chelsea’s defence

Much has been said about the defending champions’s defensive frailties in the opening stages of the season and, not for the first time, Chelsea’s right-hand side looked particularly vulnerable. Branislav Ivanovic and Kurt Zouma endured a torrid time against Porto’s Yacine Brahimi, who proved a constant threat coming in from the right-hand side. Zouma’s naivety was also on show as the young Frenchman found himself going for balls that had already been claimed by Gary Cahill, leading to a stern talking-to his senior partner. In fact, a number of players across the pitch were guilty of doing this, a crime that many would attribute to a Sunday League player, and not defending Premier League champions. On the other flank, Cesar Azpilicueta enjoyed a solid outing but could do little to disguise Chelsea’s general disjointed display at the back.


While Brahimi proved the most potent threat to Chelsea’s goal, it was the performance of Ruben Neves that stood out from the rest. The 18-year-old midfielder was exhausted as he left the pitch and with good reason. He proved a composed presence in a Porto midfield which suffocated their opposite numbers in the central areas and, while he is typically deployed as a defensive midfielder, the Porto academy graduate proved adept at dictating play from deep. Neves, who has made nearly 40 first-team appearances, is rumoured to be in Jose Mourinho’s thoughts for a possible future switch to London. What Neves’ performance could do, however, is show the Chelsea coach that trust can be placed in youth players, something the Portuguese has been seemingly against throughout his coaching career.

Follow @thesportreview on Instagram


MORE: The latest football transfer news

MORE: Meet the Premier League's most stylish footballers

MORE: Do you know the top Muslim footballers in the Premier League?

MORE: Take a tour of Arsenal star Mesut Ozil’s £10m London house

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

Roger Federer at the London 2012 Olympics
Roger Federer says yes to 2020 Olympics: ‘My heart decided I would love to play’
Chelsea FC forward Willian (Photo: Willian / Instagram)
Willian sends open message to Chelsea FC fans
Unai Emery
Arsenal leading the race to sign 22-year-old Spaniard – report
Paul Pogba
Pundit: Man United star is one of the best players in the world
Frank Lampard
Olivier Giroud sends open message to Chelsea FC boss Frank Lampard
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer proposes six transfer targets to Man United chiefs – report
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Sadio Mane
Jamie Carragher admits he ‘absolutely loves’ Liverpool FC star
Harry Redknapp
Harry Redknapp tips Tottenham to finish above Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC forward Willian (Photo: Willian / Instagram)
Willian sends open message to Chelsea FC fans