Antonio Rüdiger has been one of Chelsea’s biggest personalities ever since his arrival in 2017, and his influence both on the pitch and behind the scenes has only grown over the years, and especially over the past season or so as he’s become a key player once again in the team.
In a squad full of young, technical wizardry, Rüdiger is a bit of a throwback, the emotional leader, the one not afraid to regularly dabble in some of football’s, shall we say, darker arts. Proper Chels, if you will.
His operative word is “hustle” and his key phrase is “always believe”. Much to his (and our) disappointment, Chelsea were lacking in both of those departments yesterday.
“Normally what we are strong in, today we didn’t show. We’ve played against them before and we played out from the back and it was not a problem like today. Today I think it was more on us, we have to play more ourselves. Obviously they played good, but we were not at our best.
“Today is the first time that the opponent was physically better than us. They ran more than us, they made it very difficult for us. But from ourselves, it was very disappointing.
“We have to admit we had a very bad day in the office. We didn’t perform on our usual level and that’s why we were punished and this is what we have to take for the next games, to give more intensity, because to be honest in every aspect they were better than us.
“Today we didn’t show our personality that we usually show. Obviously this can happen, but in a game like this it shouldn’t happen.”
Of course you can’t change the past and there’s little use in wallowing in it. You can however learn from it and ensure that it doesn’t happen again, especially not in a big game like yesterday’s showdown against the defending champions, to whom we’re trying to close the proverbial gap. It is perhaps that aspect that is the most disappointing facet of the loss — beyond the gameplan, the lack of execution, the lack of belief. If there was any game we were going to get up for, it was this one, just like we did in the Champions League final or the two meetings previous to that, all of which we won.
Rüdiger will undoubtedly do his part to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Others will have to do the same, lest they risk getting dropped.
“For us it’s a team effort, it’s not about the individuals, and we have enough good players to replace anyone. No-one is irreplaceable so that’s why I think that doesn’t play any factor.
“[We] did not perform at our high level that we usually do and we got punished for this. We just had a bad day at the office. [Now] it’s always important to bounce back after a loss and that’s what we need to do. So now we’ll just fully focus on that. The aim is obviously to bounce back and to win and to get back definitely to winning ways.”
-Antonio Rüdiger; source: Chelsea FC
One game does not a season make, but we have to make sure this is a one-off, rather than the start of a new trend.
Next up: Juventus away, and that won’t be easy either.