The European Champions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
After the emotional rollercoaster of last seasons UEFA Champions League, especially the 95 minute final against Manchester City, the elite club competition is back!
Tonight opponents will be interesting challengers. Zenit St Petersburg aren’t renown for being European giants, however they do have a few talented players among their ranks.
Malcom and Claudinho return to club football after recent gold medals playing for the Brazil Olympic side in Tokyo. Malcom had a brief spell with Barcelona, and showed during the summer that he certainly retains his talent.
Claudinho is a recent addition to the Russian side, after signing from Red Bull Bragantino. Claudinho also oozes talent, and the Brazilian pair could be two thorns in Chelsea’s side tonight.
Chelsea line up unsurprisingly with the normal 3-4-3 formation, with Mason Mount back after his weekend’s rest. Romelu Lukaku continues to lead the line, and must be desperate to open his Champions League tally for the season.
A game that began to look like it would be all Chelsea, however Zenit came to play football when they did get possession.
Chelsea did however manage 62% possession, and it really was attack after attack for The Blues.
Despite the majority of the ball, the current champions couldn’t break down the Russian side in the first half, and a frustrated Thomas Tuchel led the side in for a half time pep talk.
Whatever he said certainly worked, firing Antonio Rudiger to dart forward and try to make things happen.
Finally after 69 minutes the breakthrough came. A lovely floated ball in from Cesar Azpilicueta found a marked Romelu Lukaku, who rose above his marker to put Chelsea 1-0 up.
After the goal Zenit had to go for it slightly more. The game soon became more open, and the visitors really should’ve scored through second half sub Artem Dzyuba, who missed a sitter.
Despite not being anywhere near their best, Chelsea managed to see the game out and secure the three points on Match Day 1 of the Champions league.
Edouard Mendy – 8/10 – A nice easy evening between the sticks for the Chelsea number 1. Didn’t have much to do at all. Presented with UEFA Goalkeeper Of The Year, probably the hardest thing he had to do all evening!
Marcos Alonso – 7/10 – As per normal, an attacking performance from the Spaniard. Basically a left winger, Alonso added another man over on the left hand side, often making the difference.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 8/10 – Another solid game from ‘Dave’. Much like most the Chelsea back line, really not much to do. Great assist to Lukaku however.
Andreas Christensen – 7/10 – Never looked in trouble at all. Slick passing, good positioning and just an all round good performance from the Dane.
Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 – Ever the entertainer, Rudiger looked his normal self. Those darting runs through teams, and antics from corners probably his most memorable moments of the match. An easy game for all 3 centre backs.
Reece James – 6/10 – Not the best performance from James tonight. His crossing was very average which is rare for him, normally being one of the best in this side. Didn’t really have to defend, and had an average game.
Jorginho – 8/10 – A typical Jorginho performance. Makes the game look very easy against sides who allow him possession. Done his job very well as per normal.
Mateo Kovacic – 8/10 – Probably the best player on the pitch yet again. The Croatian is seriously impressing this season, and was one of my unsung heroes last season. His defending is top notch, his passing is slick and his positioning is fantastic.
Mason Mount – 6/10 – Despite being on the ball nearly every time Chelsea attacked, Mason Mount didn’t really shine tonight. His work rate however, was fantastic. He wasn’t at his usual level this evening, but didn’t have a bad game.
Hakim Ziyech – 5/10 – Ziyech just doesn’t seem to be showing his full potential since his move to Stamford Bridge and tonight was another example of this. He’s obviously talented, but tends to keep the ball too often and make poor decisions. Corners were often over hit. Substituted after 60 minutes.
Romelu Lukaku – 8/10 – Looked a menace every time he got the ball, especially in the penalty area. Well taken header for the opener, filled with confidence.
Kai Havertz – 7/10 – The German came on after an hour and made an instant impact playing more alongside Romelu Lukaku. His movement and interplay helped create more room for his teammates.
Ben Chilwell – 6/10 – Good to see Chilwell back. Didn’t really get many minutes, but was solid enough.
Thiago Silva – 6/10 – Same as Chilwell, didn’t really play much of the game. Few solid clearances however from the Brazilian.
Chelsea are off to North London on Sunday to face Tottenham in what will undoubtably be another feisty affair. Fingers crossed for another 3 points!
Up The Chels!