Going to Turin to play Juventus is never easy, and Chelsea found that out to their cost last night. Right now the Champions of Europe are staring potential elimination in the face at the first stage of their defence of the coveted trophy.
Here are five points for Chelsea to take from their defeat...
Clinical Juventus did what Chelsea should have done at the Bridge
When Chelsea look back at their Champions League campaign, if they are eliminated they will look back on their opening 2-2 draw with Juventus at Stamford Bridge as where it went wrong. An Oscar brace had put the Blues 2-0 up, but they surrendered their lead. Juventus had pulled one back early on, but Chelsea were unable to extend their advantage, finally conceding an equaliser in the 83rd minute. Di Matteo said after the game he felt 'deflated', and rightly so. Little did he know the axe would swing just weeks later. Chelsea failed to show the clinical tendencies of Champions, they should have closed the game out like Juventus did last night, and thus avoided a major four point swing in the table.
All is not lost just yet
Chelsea may be sitting in third, facing hearing chants of 'Thursday Nights - Channel 5' for the rest of the season, but qualification is not impossible by any means. It is out of their hands, yes, but Juventus v Shakhtar really could go either way. Chelsea are expected to sweep aside Danish minnows FC Norjsaelland at the Bridge, so all eyes will be on the other game in the group. Chelsea need a Shakhtar win when the Ukrainians take on Juventus, and it could just happen. Shakhtar drew with Juventus in Turin, and will hopefully be keen to continue their formidable home record in Donetsk, which saw them beat Chelsea 2-1. They are unbeaten at home for 11 months, and will not roll over easily. Even though the temptation may be to rest players, they likely won't as they will want to secure top spot, and keep their record alive. Of course a draw would be no good for Chelsea, so they will face an anxious night on December 5.
Striking situation is increasingly complex
Both Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge will be frustrated figures this morning, each having failed to convince Roberto di Matteo they were worthy of a start in such an important game. Embarassingly for both, Chelsea elected to play without a striker, and both could be expected to quit the Bridge if their form and opportunities do not include between now and January. With Romelu Lukaku on loan at West Brom, their options are limited. Which is why Di Matteo elected to play Eden Hazard up front last night, but it was hardly the sort of game to be experimenting, and Chelsea surely could have done with the attacker deeper infield, causing damage, rather than have right-back Cesar Azpilicueta in there. Torres and Sturridge now have to react, and positively, for otherwise this could derail Chelsea's Premier League challenge too. In January, you can bet Chelsea will be buying strikers, with Falcao a top target, but right now the damage has been done, and it could become a limitation exercise.
Roberto di Matteo has been treated harshly - but it isn't unexpected
From hero to zero? Not quite, Di Matteo will always be a hero at Chelsea after his paying career and last season's heroics, but he quickly became a man under pressure. Chelsea would become the first ever holders of the competition to bow out at the group stages, a record the Italian would not want on his CV, and now if they do escape, it will be without him. Abramovich's impatient trigger-finger, has seen talk of Guardiola and Benitez hot up. Especially considering the loss to West Brom at the weekend and home defeat to United last month, Chelsea's strong start in the league had begun to fade. However we are not surprised, and nor is anybody, after Andre Villas-Boas swift dismissal last season. And he qualified from the Group Stages; the writing was on the wall, sad as it may seem.
Youth vs Experience lost
Despite the fact Chelsea are European champions, and there has been a lot of money spent on this side over the summer, it should not be forgotten this is a very young Chelsea side, and a work in progress at that. After finishing just sixth last season in the Premier League, it was time to change things, and Oscar, Hazard and co. have really made Chelsea a more attractive side to watch. However it should be noted that last night there was no Lampard, no Terry, and of course no strikers. Cole, Cech and Ivanovic of course did feature, but in the attacking third, just one player - Mikel- started for Chelsea who had played more than two seasons in the Champions League. Cahill and Luiz still have questions to answer as a defensive partnership - 20 conceded in 10 games together, and up against a settled Juventus side, it should be no surprise at last night's result. The Bianconneri have lost just once in more than 50 games, and showcased such experienced heads as Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon.
What did you take from last night's game?
image: © Crystian Cruz