Chelsea FC kicked off their defense of their first ever Champions League title in disappointing fashion, as Juventus came to London and escaped with a 2-2 draw. Chelsea made one change from the side that drew QPR on the weekend, as Ryan Bertrand was on the bench and Oscar made his first start in Chelsea blue.
Chelsea were on the front foot from the game's opening kick in this one. Fernando Torres was lazily caught offsides as David Luiz played a lovely through ball, and Chelsea would earn a pair of corners in the games opening minutes. David Luiz managed to get himself free for the second of those, but he headed the ball weakly to the keeper as Juventus saw off the threat.
Chelsea were controlling possession, but Juventus manged the next real chance of the game. Petr Cech was called into play as Marchisio managed to get on the end of a booted clearance and fire from just inside the 18 yard box. Cech was up to the task and the game remained scoreless.
Chelsea would have a legitimate threat just a few minutes later, but instead of shooting, Ramires decided to pass the ball to Fernando Torres. The selflessness was nice I guess, but when free in the center of the six yard box, he really needs to be shooting. The ball was eventually fired about a mile over the crossbar, but Chelsea really should have been ahead.
Oscar would open the scoring about two minutes later, as he hit a vicious strike from 25 yards out after Eden Hazard laid the ball off to him. It looked like Buffon probably had that one covered to push wide for a corner, but the ball took a deflection and found the top of the net. A fortunate deflection to be sure, but Chelsea were deservingly ahead.
They'd double that lead just minutes later, as Oscar fired what is easily one of the better goals I've ever seen. The way the ball moved was just ridiculous, see for yourself:
Chelsea would continue to control the majority of possession for the first half, but in the 38th minute they'd concede the first of Juve's two goals on the day. Frank Lampard made a poor attempt at marking Arturo Vidal on the edge of the box, and Vidal fired from 18 yards away. The ball would go through the legs of John Terry and past the diving Petr Cech. It was a good goal, but Vidal never should have had that type of space at the edge of the box.
Chelsea would start the second half on the front foot, pushing hard for a third. Ramires and Eden Hazard would just miss connecting, and Branislav Ivanovic would fire a strike from 30 yards out that forced Buffon into another good save. Frank Lampard then fired a missile of a free kick at Buffon, but Fernando Torres was a bit slow to see the rebound and it was cleared harmlessly away.
The official made his mark on the game in the 57th minute, not pointing to the spot when Eden Hazard was brought down in the box. It was a clear penalty on the replay, and Chelsea could legitimately feel hard done by when the referee did not point to the spot. Still, at this point Chelsea were easily controlling the game and it looked only a matter of time before they added a third.
At 60 minutes, Chelsea appeared to back of the pressure and look to close out the game. Juventus began to have some spells of sustained possession, and they'd begin to string together some runs of good passes. They weren't getting a lot of shots on target, but they were getting a solid foothold in the game.
Di Matteo would react with a pair of substitutions, taking Ramires off for Ryan Bertrand and Oscar off for Juan Mata. Oscar had to come off after being stepped on in what appears to be accidental fashion. There is no word on Oscar as of yet, but hopefully the youngster will be fine.
Mata and Hazard would threaten the goal again almost immediately, as the two combined down the left side for some beautiful one touch passing. The interplay resulted in a ball in the side-netting, but had Mata noticed Fernando Torres alone on the right we'd probably either be ruing a spectacular miss or celebrating a 3-2 victory. Still, it was 2-1 and Juve weren't looking overly threatening while they were controlling possession.
Then, disaster would strike. With just ten minutes remaining, John Obi Mikel would foolishly play the ball to the Juventus midfield. John Terry would compound the error by making a foolish attempt to play the offside trap. In the end, Petr Cech should probably have gotten a touch on the shot, but it was an absolute comedy of errors that led to the Juve equalizer. Juve would come close one more time before the final whistle, but the game would end in a 2-2 draw.
In the end, the result isn't unfair at all. Chelsea dominated possession for the majority of the game, but when they took their foot off the gas they allowed the Juventus midfield to get a solid foothold. At 60 minutes, Chelsea had held Juventus to under 75% passing on the game and had a massive 25 intercepted balls. Against that midfield, those are fantastic numbers. The final 30 minutes would see Juve up their passing to a respectable 82% and see only four more balls intercepted by Chelsea.
Chelsea still finished the game with the bulk of the possession, twice as many shots on target, better overall passing, and aerial dominance. They also have a legitimate gripe with the referee, as Eden Hazard should have had a penalty. For as well as Chelsea generally played though, they just can't seem to cut out the stupid errors that lead directly to goals. Good defending would have prevented both Juve strikes today, and hopefully Di Matteo will be ripping into the team for those mistakes.
That said, Chelsea just played the toughest team in their group and walked away with a point in the tournament's opening fixture. A point isn't terrible, and the draw assures that 12 points will now seal advancement into the knockout round. It's a solid start, and one that we should be able to build off of. FC Nordsjaelland will be up next, and three points from that one are a must if we want to advance more comfortably than last year. Shakhtar defeated Nordsjaelland 2-0 today and are currently atop the group.