Whilst there is no denying that Chelsea’s elimination from the Champion’s League is a devastating failure for the Blues, there are one or two silver linings they can take from their exit.
Okay, so the negatives are that they make history as being the first ever champions to go out of the competition at group stage the following year, and they lost their most successful manager of recent years in the process.
But, on the plus side – if you can angle your perspective slightly – is that had they not have won the competition last year in Munich, they would have been playing in the Europa League anyway, having come in 6th in the Premier League.
By winning the competition, they got a free pass to ‘Go’ or a get out of jail free card, depending on your view-point and your susceptibility for board-game metaphors.
Equally, they have a much better chance of winning the Europa league than they did of retaining the Champion’s League title – would the Blues take Europe’s second most prestigious trophy as a success? Of course, they would.
Plus, there is an element of karma at work, a sense of justice for Tottenham Hotspur, the irony of which may be lost on Chelsea fans, understandably. Too soon, perhaps.
And, despite their ultimate failure to achieve the objective – to stay in the competition – Rafael Benitez secured his first win a Blues boss and Fernando Torres netted a brace, which will surely improve the confidence of both of the Blues’ struggling Spaniards.
Torres could now go on to become Chelsea’s top scorer this season – stranger things have happened.
Synonymously, the lack of character and leadership that Benitez had rued upon his arrival looked much less debilitating against FC Nordsjaelland, and there has definitely been a marked improvement – David Luiz especially looked to be much more capable of driving his team forward than I’ve seen him before. And Gary Cahill is fast evolving into the successor to John Terry the club desperately craves.
What must not be forgotten is, despite some poor results, the performances of a number of Chelsea’s individuals were brilliant – no one will forget 21-year-old Oscar’s first start of the season against Juventus. His two goals were an impressive introduction to say the least.
They’ll take the failure as team – they operated in the competition much the way a squad of new players does when it is getting to know one another; as individuals. Now they’re a team and their failure will make them stronger, more unified, and could bring out the best in them.
image: © Wshjackson