Basel were applying heavy pressure from the opening whistle of the match, while Chelsea appeared content to sit back, absorb, and try to hit on the counter early. Chelsea were sloppy with their passing early on though, and the first half was more or less all Basel.
While the Blues managed to escape to the dressing room with the score still 0-0, Jose Mourinho was forced into a first half substitution when Samuel Eto'o pulled up with a groin problem. Fernando Torres came on in his stead, making his return from an injury of his own.
The second half got underway with a noticeable drop in the pressing speed from Basel, and resulted in a considerably better looking Chelsea attack. Mourinho responded by bringing on Eden Hazard to take advantage of some tired defenders.
The Blues continued to plod their way toward the knockout round, bringing on Kevin De Bruyne for Willian with just minutes left to play. Almost immediately Basel struck on the counter, and Chelsea were left with just a few moments to salvage anything from their trip to Switzerland. They couldn't, but Schalke's draw assured we'll still be playing Champions League football in February anyway.
Here are a few thoughts while we think about the knockout round:
- Here's hoping the injury to Samuel Eto'o isn't a major one, but it didn't look good at the time. I have a feeling we're going to see quite a bit of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba in the near future.
- I love the white top, white shorts, white socks away kit. That combination sits pretty close to the top of my favorite (non-blue) Chelsea kits of all time.
- The game against Steaua now has some meaning, as we still haven't managed to win the group. A win against Steaua will do it, or a draw with Basel dropping points. Losing to Steaua would mean we'd finish second in our group, and be subjected to a much tougher draw.
- At the end of the day, we're not returning to the Europa League. I'll take it, and hope we've got some of the wrinkles ironed out of our attack by the middle of February.