As mentioned in the post-match interview, Willian has now contributed to 14 goals in his last 13 starts for Chelsea — impressive even if you adjust for opposition strength — and Friday night was no different as Chelsea’s 2015-16 Player of the Year hit a brace to get him into double-digit goals for the third year running. After setting a new career high last season with 12 goals, he looks well on course to shatter that.
That said, after putting in a 90-minute shift, he’s unlikely to start on Tuesday against Barcelona — though will undoubtedly make a substitute appearance as he almost always does when he doesn’t start, and could thus make an impact on proceedings still. As one of the more in-form players in the squad, we just might need him to.
“It was a great game, not only by me but the whole team. We played really well from the beginning. To be honest, we expected a difficult game but it became easy because of the way we played. We tried to score goals, create chances and we did a great job. I think after a difficult moment we’re back to winning games and when you win the confidence goes high. Now we have to carry on.”
Next up is the potentially season-defining match that few are expecting Chelsea to win. But Willian (like most of the players, surely) will believe that Chelsea can get something out of it.
“Football is all about results. When you win everything is fine, when you lose, no. We always try to work hard and improve ourselves and we have to continue like that. We play for Chelsea, we always want to win titles. In the Champions League we know it’s going to be a difficult game but we are Chelsea, we know we can win the game. We have to prepare and no doubt it will be a massive game.”
Willian may have joined Chelsea after the Miracle of the Camp Nou in 2012, but has faced Barcelona with Shakhtar a couple times before. In fact, almost 10 years ago, he was part of a Shakhtar side that became the only team to beat treble-winning Barcelona in the Champions League, 3-2 in the final, albeit meaningless, group stage game. Still, a win’s a win, especially against often regarded as one of the greatest ever (thanks in some part to a certain referee at Stamford Bridge a few months after Shakthar’s win).
In any case, Chelsea will need all the help we can get this time around. Nice to see Willian warming up with a bit of mind-games on Hull’s penalty miss.
“I said to him (Meyler): “You’re going to miss.” I said: “Don’t shoot in the middle because Willy won’t move, he stays,” and then when he missed I said: “I told you.”
-Willian; source: Chelsea FC
Shades of Ivanović scuffing the penalty spot for Messi in the aforementioned Miracle (for which the yellow card ruled him out of the final), and Mikel’s mind games against Robben in the subsequent final. Chelsea legends, both of them. Willian’s not quite there yet, but he could certainly stake a claim against Barcelona.