Whilst Wednesday’s night 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland was largely turned into a hollow victory by Juventus’ win in Donetsk, there were encouraging signs for Chelsea. Their attacking play was as slick and effective as it was at the start of the season, although against lesser opposition, and Fernando Torres finally picked up a couple of goals.
At the back, David Luiz turned in another impressive performance, and is looking an increasingly impressive figure under Benitez. Clearly Luiz is not a man short of confidence.
He has taken a battering from the press since his time in England, having been marked out early as a player who did not follow fill the conventional centre back mould. Despite all this, Luiz still retains his style on the ball, and even had the gumption to step up and knock in Chelsea’s opener from the penalty spot on Wednesday.
This confidence has been backed up with three excellent displays under Benitez, with Luiz only missing the 3-1 loss at West Ham since the Spanish manager’s appointment at Stamford Bridge.
Benitez has clearly been considering Luiz’s role in the side, with the Portuguese player sometimes moved further forward into a midfield position for Chelsea in the game against Nordsjaelland, something that may be repeated during Mikel’s upcoming three match ban.
Wherever he is on the pitch, Luiz is the kind of character that Chelsea will need this season. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge, and has shown enough resilience to maintain the cavalier style of play that earned him the €25 million move to Chelsea even in the face of prolonged criticism. He was also a key part of the defensive unit that won Chelsea the Champions League last season.
The first thing Benitez has attempted to do at Stamford Bridge is tighten up at the back, and Luiz has been central to this. The new Blues boss clearly rates the Portuguese player, and even when Terry returns you would expect Luiz to be an integral part of the side for the rest of the season.
The Brazilian defender will probably face plenty more criticism in his time at Chelsea, but it hasn’t affected him so far, and he looks a more important player for the club game by game.
image: © Ben Sutherland