Things were going swimmingly for 75 minutes. Willian hit the post twice and the back of the net once. Chelsea had deployed a spider’s web in front of the penalty area (even though we sold the actual Spider several months ago) box, forcing Lionel Messi deeper and blunting Barcelona’s attack almost to the point of futility. Sure, they were pressing but we looked to have things in hand.
Then this happened.
As you probably know by now, the man who put that dangerous pass across the top of his own box, out of reach of everyone but Andreas Iniesta, was the other Andreas, the one we love, Andreas Christensen.
Some say Cesc Fabregas could have done more to intercept it. Or Thibaut Courtois shouldn’t have been caught even more flat-footed. And Cesar Azpilicueta certainly should not have gone to ground and taken himself completely out of the play if there was even a tiny chance of not being able to reach it. As ever, it was not just one single mistake that led to a goal, though Christensen certainly got the ball rolling, so to speak.
And to his credit, he’s not hiding for it. In an interview with Danish outlet TV3, he’s shouldered the responsibility for the game-changing error.
“I had done all the hard work and kept the ball in play, but then I made a very bad decision, I should have kicked it out.”
-Andreas Christensen to TV3Sport, via Metro.
It was a rare mistake by a man who sports a healthy 94% passing percentage this season. Christensen has been a revelation since rejoining his parent cub after two celebrated years with Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he piled up nine Champions League appearances. He has unseated David Luiz at the heart of Chelsea’s defense. He’s calm, athletic and quite comfortable on the ball. Ironically, if there is one complaint about his ball-playing qualities is that he tends to play things too safe.
Mistakes are part of the game of course. As was pointed out even in the immediate aftermath, one of the greatest, if not the greatest Chelsea defenders of all-time committed two of the most famous on-pitch gaffes in modern Chelsea history, missing a decision penalty kick in 2008 and kneeing a certain Alexis Sanchez in the back in 2012.
The key now is how the youngster will respond to it. In words, he’s already sounding like a grizzled veteran.
“As a centre-back, you get punished by your mistakes, however, it’s the position that I’ve chosen to play, so I won’t be dwelling too much on it and let it get to me.”
“I know I made a mistake, but there is not much else to do than to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Spoken like a pro. Short memory, get ready for the next one. And with a refreshing degree of honesty. Really, what’s not to like about him?
Andreas Christensen has been a Chelsea player since the club brought him in six years ago next month. There will be ups, there be downs, but he could conceivably be a Chelsea player for another 14 years. What we’re seeing then just might be the next Chelsea legend in the making.