Chelsea 0 v 2 Swansea - Captial One Semi Final Match Report
Chelsea started brightly in the match and played well in a first half, at times producing some delightful football (though our finishing was dreadful) . But it was Swansea that went in at half time 0 v 1 up, not us. This wasn't due to anything they did but rather was due to an awful first touch from Ivanovic which let in - who else - Michu. Their talismanic striker hadn't so much as had a sniff up to this point. But as with all great strikers, he don't need to be asked twice when he was gifted a one on one with the keeper out of nowhere.
At half time Benitez should've earned his keep and changed things up. Why? Because Swansea were no threat going forward, and because we were in need of a goal (or two). Ergo, he should've taken off one of our defensive midfielders (we were playing 4231) and changed to 4132 and brought on Ba. Now, as syllogisms go this was a pretty simple one to grasp, even for Benitez. But of course he didn't do anything of the kind. Rather, he followed his 'Football Management 101' how-to book, and refused to change anything until after the hour mark.
At this point he brought on Lampard for the largely ineffectual Ramires in a like for like swap. Now, we all love Lamps, but at 35 he is not exactly an 'impact player', as he's someone who needs - to get the best out of him - to start the match and 'get a feel' for the game to really boss the midfield.
The crowd were crying for Benitez to bring on Ba, right the way through the second half. But Benitez didn't do so until about 15 minutes from the end (in place of Torres, who didn't have so much as a single shot on goal all game). And let's not beat about the bush here, Ba offered more goal threat, and had more attempts on goal (including one goal disallowed for off-side) in 15 minutes than Torres offered IN THE ENTIRE MATCH.
But like I said, I would've been happy enough to have two up front for the second half, as we were bossing the possession, and never looked like giving up another goal.
That is until Ivanovic decided to gift Swansea, in the dying minutes of the match, yet another goal, when he passed back to Turnbull WITHOUT LOOKING. And then, as if by magic, Swansea were 0 v 2 up and the match was over.
Ivanovic was without question the man of the match...FOR SWANSEA. Without his school-boy errors there's no way in God's green earth we would've lost this match. Because, aside from the two goals / gifts from Ivanovic, Swansea hardly had a single shot on goal the entire match. This was, as the saying goes, a SMASH AND GAB win for them. And they can go into the second leg full of confidence.
In Ivanovic's defence I will go on record and say that he is a terrific player, and everyone has a bad game from time to time. Not usually THIS BAD, I'll grant you. But I'm a big fan of Ivanovic and I'm not going to cruicify him based on one shambolic display. (I suspect he's been studying defending from Luiz, if today's performance is anything to go by!)
Still, there's always the second leg to come. And fingers crossed we'll have Terry and Cahill at the centre of defence by then. Let's hope so, because two home defeats in a row, against 'lesser' opposition, does not bode well for the rest of the season.
All together now, Chelsea fans: "BENITEZ AND TORRES OUT!"
Brian M Logan