NK Maribor 1-1 Chelsea: Five Things We Learned

Jose Mourinho and his side looked to seal the deal against NK Maribor and enter the knockout stages of Champions League, when they travelled to Maribor on Wednesday. But against all expectations, the Slovenian Champions made Chelsea struggle to find the net. The match ended with a scoreline of 1-1, Maribor obviously being the happier side of the two.

Nemanja Matic equalised for the Blues in the 73rd minute after Agim Ibraimi had put the home team ahead in the 50th minute with an unstoppable curled shot into the top corner with his left foot. One of the poorest performances by the Blues gave us some important things to learn and move on, with a trip to Liverpool this Saturday.

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Maribor deserved the draw

Realizing your mistake, and accepting that your opponent performed better is an important part of any sport. We have to admit that with the kind of performance Maribor put up in the second half; they deserved this result. Agim Ibraimi with his amazing goal and goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic, with his brilliant penalty save proved this point very well.

The Violets learnt well from the mistake they made when they visited Stamford Bridge. Coach Ante Simundza adopted a more defensive and practical strategy to control Chelsea’s midfield and attack, unlike the previous game when they gave a lot of space for the Blues to get past their defence.

Finishing was the problem for Chelsea

Even after enjoying most of the possession with Hazard and Fabregas trying their best to cause damage, the Blues were unable to open their account in the first half. Didier Drogba, who had previously scored 3 goals in consecutive 3 matches this season, also failed to fulfill the duty of scoring after being chosen over Diego Costa. Had it not been for Nemanja Matic, tapping the ball in after John Terry got a head to it from a corner, the visitors would have returned without any points. And in all fairness, the Serbian’s goal was not something to boast about as it wasn’t the best of goals by Jose’s men.

Mourinho is making the best use of Willian’s abilities

Jose has used his genius mind again! Willian has now become a crucial part of Jose’s style and also puts in a long shift in midfield. The Brazilian has been given this role owing to his pace, stamina and clean tackling abilities. In the first half on Wednesday, whenever Maribor’s defence managed to get the ball, Willian was ever-present to make tackles or steal the ball from behind. No doubt the ball rarely got into the Chelsea half during the first 45 minutes. The 26-year-old was substituted after the first half to bring on Oscar.

Kurt Zouma is another upcoming star at Chelsea

One Chelsea man who really stole the show was Kurt Zouma, who made his 4th appearance for the Blues and his 2nd in the Champions League. The 20-year-old France international could prove to be a good replacement for John Terry in future. Zouma was not only solid at the back but was involved in attack as well. He displayed his heading qualities through a corner, just like Terry, when his headed ball went just above the crossbar. Perhaps one more name added to Jose’s legend-in-the-making list!

Eden Hazard finally misses a penalty

One of the most rare sights in the world would be seeing Eden Hazard missing a penalty. The Belgian has scored each and every of the 17 penalties that he has taken in domestic football throughout his career. Eight of them have been for Chelsea. But last night, when Hazard stepped up to take the penalty against NK Maribor, looking for the winning goal, the ball went to the left of goalkeeper at a distance which was within his reach. As he managed to keep the ball out, Hazard missed only the 2nd penalty of his career, both of them in the Champions League.

Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni

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