Seville’s sports daily calls it a “ridiculous” “embarrassment” on an “historic” night at the Sánchez-Pizjuán, which hosted a European match for the 100th time and saw the home side humbled to the tune of 4-0 by the visitors. Sevilla don’t often lose at home — just their third in all competitions in the last 12 months — and certainly don’t often lose by four at home. A 5-0 defeat in the Copa del Rey by Barcelona is the only other time that has happened since December 2011.
Granted, Sevilla didn’t put out their strongest side (due to injuries as well as a massive game coming up against Real Madrid at the weekend) but neither did Chelsea (due to fatigue and squad management). Both teams were already assured of a spot in the knockout rounds, so only the top seed designation was up for grabs.
None of that should take away from the magnificence of Chelsea’s team performance, and of course the magnificence of Olivier Giroud’s historic individual performance. Head coach Frank Lampard, the last person to score four in a game for Chelsea before last night, was obviously quite delighted by it all especially after making nine changes from the weekend’s scoreless draw against Spurs.
“[There’s] always the worry when you make that level of changes. But the focus and concentration of the team, the moments to suffer which we always will do against a team like this in the first half [...chef’s kiss].
“We dealt with things, we defended well, we were organised, and some of our play was great, whether it was our comfort on the ball, our counter-attacking at pace to cause a threat to them. There were so many big pluses from tonight and we need to continue with that.”
Pluses don’t come much bigger than a backup striker scoring four goals, but are any of us really surprised by Giroud’s excellence and professionalism? If you’ve been paying attention for the past three years, you really shouldn’t be.
Like fine wine, Giroud’s just getting better with age, getting better at being Giroud — we know what he is, and he knows what he is. Yes, a male model and coolness personified (that second goal was just absolute rudeness despite the knee-slide celebration fail), but also a world class target man and model professional.
“It was an amazing performance, to score four goals at this level, Champions League level, against a really good opponent, then the individual quality of all his goals [...] rightly he gets a standing ovation as he comes off the pitch. And I’m delighted for him.”
“When you play him you know his attributes, it’s important we get a lot of energy around him, people that can run off him and support him. He has qualities to hold the ball up obviously and to convert balls in the box like N’Golo puts in.
“So I loved all those parts of us at the top end of the pitch.”
There was much to love, indeed, about last night. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it’s still just one game, and one game that (probably) didn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things.
As ever, it’s important to not get carried away, even if we’ve now gone unbeaten in 15 and have kept a clean sheet in 8 out of our last 10 in all competitions.
“[Improvement] is a collective thing and there’s a lot of aspects to it. We have worked. The lads have gone away and worked in a short off season. Myself and the staff did analysis on a lot of areas of our game which we wanted to improve.
“My job is to put them into action through work on the training ground. The other aspect is working with the players to make sure the push, drive and spirit of the players is good. The biggest thing is the players; the players have to go out and perform like they did today.
“[...] people will get excited, particularly after a result like tonight but, as always, consistency is what wins you titles. Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues: we can’t play like tonight and drop the level. Sustaining that level is what will bring success.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London