Why the Champions failed in the Champions League

The Premier League season came to an end with game against Sunderland at the Bridge. Chelsea’s season has been fruitful to say the least. The 1st of March triumph over Spurs at Wembley brought the first trophy to West London.

The game against Sunderland and its result were both insignificant if it were not for the Premier League trophy that was handed over to the new Champions of England. Chelsea were helped by their early exit from the Champions League. It is right that Chelsea were not the only English team that went out early from the European competition, but Chelsea are unlike other English team, aren’t they? Unlike Arsenal, they have the pedigree in the Champions League, and right until this season have partly been the reason that the noisy North Londoners have been able to play in the Champions League with their fourth place in the league.

As such, it is a fact that everyone at Chelsea must be disappointed with their early exit at the hands of Qatar funded Parisiens. The double celebrations will last for some time, a week may be, and there would be a sense of success around the club and rightly so. Mourinho targeted the League this term and he got it. But he needs to win the holy grail of football with Chelsea. That is the one trophy that eludes him as a Blues’ manager.

Partly, this Chelsea exit was due to Mourinho’s own doings. Partly due to other factors. A squad that was seemingly and provably better than last season was knocked out earlier this time. Something certainly was not right. Let’s have a look at the reasons and the Culprits of Chelsea’s failure in the biggest competitions of them all.

The Players’ Attitude:

Diego Costa has been a glorious success in the Premier League, the Spanish striker has brought the lethal touch back into the Chelsea team. The bite they lacked last season with Torres et al. in their ranks is gone. Replaced in stead by the Brazil-born reincarnation of young Drogba. However, how many points one can give him for his Champions League exploits this term? None, whatsoever. Call it whatever, luck or anything. The fact remains that he failed to deliver in Europe like he did in England, the reasons don’t matter that much. He could be forgiven though. Given Chelsea progressed last season with non-firing strikers.

The manner in which Chelsea bowed out was all the more baffling. After getting the Zlatan sent off in somewhat controversial manner, all that remained was to score and defend. Against 10 mere men, one of them being David Luiz himself. Perhaps therein lies the cause of the exit. The players relaxed thinking their job would be easier this particular night. They never seemed like giving it their all or half for that matter. The lax behaviour on the pitch was the main reason for the outcome of that night in London. David Luiz and Thiago Silva only ate what was thrown their way. This was so unlike Chelsea. Perhaps the worst they played all season, given they had that advantage in numbers.

Mourinho’s Tactics:

One knows he’s treading in dangerous waters when they criticize tactics of the man who masters managers like a whistle. Looking at Chelsea locking down the league after the loss to Spurs on new Year’s day, one can not and should not raise a finger on the mastermind that the Portuguese is. However, as is evidently proven, Europe is a different case, it’s fish are sometimes bigger. The game is not always won by taking the lead and defending it, certainly not the way Chelsea did it against PSG.

One could say that had the players executed what Mourinho had drilled them for, the outcome would have been different and as expected. It wasn’t to be. Anyone could see it from the start. Mourinho should have seen it too. Given the type of manager he is, one would expect him to have acted on it. Proactive as he is, he couldn’t do much on the night though. This brings us to our next problem.

The Bench:

The Prominent starting eleven remains mostly the same for Mourinho. There are first team players in his squad and there are bench players. There are rarely any first team bench players, goalkeepers being the obvious exception. However, imagine having a striker of comparable ability to Diego Costa, who would actually fill in and do the job when the Spanish international couldn’t find the net. Imagine a midfielder who could master the midfield when one of Fabregas or Oscar couldn’t run the game. The truth is, Mourinho has had substitutes this season that could be brought on to close games. Not one of those could be brought on with the trust of him changing the game itself.

Is it Mourinho’s choice, or was it a limitation, we’ll see this summer. It is clear beyond any doubt, however, that had Chelsea been better equipped, they might have reached the semis or the finals itself.

In the meantime, Mourinho and everyone at Chelsea can enjoy the glory they have earned with so much of hard work. Europe reckons a better effort next time around. There shall be no excuses next term. With Mourinho, one shouldn’t expect excuses, but success.

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