Ancelotti Outclassed By Mourinho In Battle Of Stamford Bridge

Proponents of the notion that the Premier League is the best in the world – an oft repeated mantra – might want to shut up for once and take a look at the Champions League this year. For the past few years, English clubs have dominated the latter stages, now they’re down to two already.

Worse yet, Chelsea bowed out with little more than a whimper, utterly crushed by Mourinho’s Inter Milan side. It was victory born out of clever tactics by deploying Eto’o and Pandev as wide attackers to block Chelsea’s full-backs and by applying a brute physicality defensively. Drogba, the unstoppable force of nature, looked like a little boy lost. It reminded me of when you move up from High School to the Seniors and suddenly you’re playing against kids who are bigger, faster and harder than you. I’ve never seen him look so ineffective, so lame. He was bossed from the start to the finish of both ties. Premier League defenders should take note; they were given a three hour master-class on how to handle Drogba in these games.

Lucio and Samuel marshalled the defence with a resolution that sapped Chelsea’s will to win. As the game went on, I found myself thinking how similar to some recent England teams Chelsea were. When they came up against a well organized well-motivated side, they ran out of ideas, lack width and pace and unable to dominate possession. On top of that they were prone to basic defensive errors such as Terry’s misjudgment of a cross that found Eto-o only for him to head it wide.

Inter put Chelsea in a strait-jacket and Chelsea could do nothing about it because they lacked creativity and invention. I’d forgotten Lampard was even on the pitch, Anelka was similarly anonymous. Cole looked off the pace when he came on and did nothing to suggest he is essential to Chelsea’s future.

As Mourinho busied himself with subs, telling his players where to go and how to play, Ancelotti stood impassive, his face expressionless. The contrast could not have been greater. He had no more ideas to try, no more wisdom to impart, nothing. The tank was empty. He knew it and his players knew it. As soon as Eto’o scored, all life went out of the Blues. They accepted that they couldn’t score two to take it to extra-time and barely even tried to do so.

This was the tournament Ancelotti was employed to win. He confessed it was his priority before the game. The fact that they have failed so early on, is not likely to please Abramovich, a man not known for giving a manager time. But it wasn’t just the defeat per se, it was the manner of the defeat that will have shocked him. It was tame affair and smacked of a side unmotivated by Ancelotti and out thought by Mourinho.

Given that, even domestic trophies may well not save Ancelotti in the summer. He looked a beaten man last night. Despite his excellent record, there have been suspicions all season long that he has not done enough to change Chelsea to give them the edge that they had under Mourinho. The doubters had clear evidence last night. They lacked guts, fight and self belief. Three things Mourinho has in abundance and could still have been giving to Chelsea if the owner had acted more like a football man and less like a Russian oligarch.

31 thoughts on “Ancelotti Outclassed By Mourinho In Battle Of Stamford Bridge”

  1. Mourinho is still the special one. As you said Chelsea looked all adrift last night, which can only be a good thing. I really don’t want to argue the whole EPL is the best so early. But I will say that the EPL still has as many (2) or more teams still in the CL than the other leagues. Barca will probably beat the lesser German squad today. Having said that, I’m not too proud to say, pleas, please, please Mourinho hang about in Italy until Sir Alex retires. I would love to have Jose @ Old Traffod.

        1. I second this. But to reiterate what I said in the other Chelseasuks post by the Gaffer…

          To me, the thing that Chelsea are really lacking is, and not to play out that stupid series of Zidane F50i commercials, a spark in the squad. All of the teams in the last eight have them: Sneijder, Gourcuff, Fabregas, Robben, Messi et all of Barcelona’s midfield…I could go on. They lack the either striker or midfielder who can get into those tight spaces, outpace players, remain positive, weave in a killer pass, or finish no matter how brilliantly or scrappily. I am a Blue, but I really hope that Carlo signs some sort of cohesive playmaker who can change the complexion of a game, it seems like we just haven’t got that spark of creativity these past few weeks.

  2. So here’s the last 8 for this years ECL

    England 2
    Germany 1
    France 1 (maybe 2)
    Greece 1 (maybe 0)
    Italy 1
    Spain 1
    Russia 1

    So who’s dominant – and who’s not? And provided they miss Barcelona in the Quarter finals its more than likely England will make up 50% of the teams in the Semi Finals.

  3. I would have to say that Jose is a very special one.

    If he were still at Chelski, they would’ve won the Champions League by now.

  4. Samuel tackled Drogba in the box. Malouda was blocked off a ball in the box with no PK call. However, a few minutes later, Inter was given a free kick outside the box on a similar interference foul against Zhirkov. Not blaming the ref totally because Chelsea were very ineffective. When Malouda is your most creative player, something is wrong. Chelsea needed Essien in this game. Remember him?

    1. And Terry smashes Milito on the back of the head, Drogba throws himself to the ground feigning injury, Lampard dives and should have been booked, Terry pulls Eto’o shirt on a corner.

      Not one of those incidents was picked up on British TV for any criticism. Pathetic.

  5. I have been saying for the last few weeks on my site that for Ancelotti the jury is out (have a look for yourselves by clicking my name) and last night was proven even more so. Unless he starts playing to our strengths using Malouda/Joe Cole wide with either Drogba/Anelka up front, we won’t win anything this season!

    1. WHY he has tried the Luis Felipe Scolari tactic of putting Anelka out wide is utterly beyond me.

      What happened to the 4-1-2-1-2 that brought so much success in the first half of the season? What happened to pairing Anelka and Drogba next to each other and letting Lamps work freely in the space between them? I don’t know what is going through his head, but something needs to change and he needs to find a winning formula again, especially seeing as Essien will be out for some time with that damned knee injury.

  6. I fail to see where Chelsea losing to the best team in Italy means the EPL is not the best league in the world. I’m not necessarily arguing for it, but either Arsenal or Man U. could still end up beating Inter in the next round and Italy would have no teams left.

    Other than Barcelona, we’ve seen what the best of Spain has to offer…and they weren’t able to get past Lyon.

    It’s also funny that the usual teams seem to always end up in the final game, but this year could still see a Lyon-Bordeaux final. Or a Bordeaux-CSKA Moscow final.

  7. @2 and @7 Yes, its a bit of an overreaction. Chelsea hasn’t been the same since Essien went down, and while France is likely to have 2 teams in the in the last 8, and Germany has a slim chance at 2, I don’t think anybody thinks that Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga are the EPL’s closest competition. If you look at the Seria A and La Liga, They both only have 1 team left-potentially, Spain potentially no teams in the last 8!

    The story to me doesn’t seem like the relative decline of the EPL, but more that of Spain and Italy and the rise of France and Germany. Look at the coefficients, both France and Germany have a chance to pass Italy in a few years.

    1. The Bundesliga will have 4 teams and Serie A 3 teams qualifying for the Champions League in the 2012-2013 season at the LATEST. This is a virtual certainty since Italy will lose a 4.92 advantage over Germany in the 2005-6 coefficient with the current 5-year lead of just 1.441. It is just highly likely they will hold that advantage next season given the current state of Italian football. It could even happen in 2011-2012, because Germany still has 3 teams active in the Europa League (granted none of them need to win to advance tomorrow).

      Ligue 1 in France can not pass Italy (or Germany) at all until 2014-15 at the EARLIEST I beleive because of their abysmal UEFA record in the 2007-2008 season. France is still a full 10.075 in coefficient behind Italy right now.

  8. Inter was better but lets not go overboard on Mourinho. He didn’t “create” a special line-up for this game. He always plays with the same four in defense every game.

    This 11 matched up well against Chelsea’s 11 because Anelka is one of themost over-rated forwards ever and Terry and Lamps always suck in big games. Chelsea’s “big” players come up small again.

  9. Don’t forget Mourinho had Claude Makelele. Madrid did nothing after he left and Chelsea hasn’t either since he started losing a step and eventually left the team. Agree with Potbelly that Chelsea are missing Michael Essien in a major way. They struggled without him last year like they are this year compounded by the Terry saga.

  10. Mourinho was spot on deploying the impressive Wesley Sneijder in the middle of the park. I believe his creativity and his vision was the difference in an otherwise tight contest. He played those through balls incisively. I think if anything, the EPL lacks that creativity in the middle, that hole which Bergkamp seemed to occupy for Arsenal, just behind Henry and Wright. Lampard maybe regarded as one of the best goal-scoring mid-field, but even he lacks that craft to provide such super deliveries that Sneijder produced. It was perhaps, the biggest mid-field craftsmanship I have seen in this Champions League.

    1. I think the only center midfielder in the prem that can create like Sneijder is Fabregas. Lampard has never been praised for his creativity, moreso for his consistency. I think what we’ve seen in the Champs league is that you need a couple players with the ability to make the threaded pass or the perfect cross to set up their strikers, because the defenses at the last 8 of Champs League are of a very high quality. You won’t beat Inter by dribbling through them, you need to creatively pass around them–something that Chelsea were not able to do.

      Inter is a very organized team in the back, and Sneijder is an expert at setting up his front line with goal-scoring chances. We’ll see if his form continues to be this outstanding going forward.

  11. “Proponents of the notion that the Premier League is the best in the world – an oft repeated mantra – might want to shut up for once and take a look at the Champions League this year. For the past few years, English clubs have dominated the latter stages, now they’re down to two already.”

    And yet the Prem still has more teams left than every other country. France will most likely have two but surely the author wouldn’t then make the case that Ligue 1 is moving in on the EPL’s territory would he?

    Looks like you’re really just trying to bait people with that statement and you have to realize that the number of teams that the EPL has in the CL each year is NOT the sole reason why people say that it’s the best in the world. And, as I’ve pointed out, if you ARE going to use that criteria, you still seem to be proving the “proponents'” point. Moreover, why do we have to “shut up”? A terrible Liverpool and a faltering Chelsea, who’ve been faltering in their domestic league for a little while now. As a Utd fan I don’t want to make any excuses for them, and I’m certainly happy to see them gone from the CL, but they had more than a few penalty shouts in that match and regardless of the fact that it didn’t appear that they came to play yesterday, that doesn’t excuse the referee from doing his job. You certainly don’t deserve a clear-cut penalty any less because you don’t seem to be playing well at the moment.

    At any rate, I thought this was supposed to be an article about the Chelsea/Inter matchup and not another whine-piece about how much the EPL sucks? Pretty unnecessary way to open the article and if you want to continue sobbing, just make another thread specific to that topic no?

  12. I like both these teams, and though I am mainly a fan of English football, I admire Mourinho and Inter. BUT, after watching the pathetic diving by the likes of Thiaggo Motta and Lucio – my contempt and disgust for the Italian style of football re-surfaced. Referees must issue cards to stop the diving or at least walk up to the player (like Lucio) and slap him on the back of the head – and tell them to get up and stop the pathetic act. Diving and simulation RUIN football.

    1. Fred, Thiago Motta and Lucio are Brazilian. They are not Italian. They likely “dove” for many years before they came to Italy.

      I’ve seen Drogba and Eduardo dive many times and never said “divers in english football”. Get real.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Fdon, but I still agree with Fred’s premise that the game featured more theatrical performances than I want to see in a football match. I grew up watching Francis Lee throw himself all over the Field for Man City and Derby, so agreed, no country has a monopoly on it; but I didn’t like it then either.

  13. Chelsea hasn’t looked the same since the first half of the season. The injuries are really hurting them as well as a perceived lack of confidence. I would say that Zhirkov has been a disappointment. He doesn’t look to score and lacks creativity. Ballack is getting old and hasn’t really threatened much lately, while Terry has been in poor form over the past month or so. Chelsea is falling apart before our eyes. Its sad man.. I don’t see them hanging on to win the EPL title either. They are moving in the opposite direction of both Man U and Arsenal.

  14. It’s time to identify who is going to be the core of the Chelsea squad over the next 3 to 5 years, and sell the players that are not going to be of those plans. Ballack, Malouda, (sigh) J. Coe, Kalou, Carvahlo, and replace them with a younger generation of match winners. Holding on to aging players or ones that simply don’t fit is the worst possible situation. Ribbery, Agüero, and a midfield stalwart like Pirlo (although not him specifically) are the types of new players we need to bring it. Keep the core, cut the dead weight, and bring in three massive signings, in midfield and attack.

  15. “Proponents of the notion that the Premier League is the best in the world – an oft[en] repeated mantra – might want to shut up for once and take a look at the Champions League this year.” uh, ok then.

    John, are you implying that Internazionale’s victory at Stamford Bridge says anything about the Premier League being over-hyped? Or was it simply about one “big” team beating another over two matches? Inter did not “crush” Chelsea. Thats what Barca, Man U, and Arsenal did to their opponents.

    Your words “For the past few years, English clubs have dominated the latter stages, now they’re down to two already.” ok, so Spain, Italy, and Germany, are down to one “already”? what is your point? By your logic, is Ligue 1 is the new super league in Europe?

    It’s probably wise that you stick to ONE thesis in your articles for now, otherwise everything else you say gets muddled, lacks focus, and makes little sense.

  16. brn442 is right. Inter didn’t crush Chelsea. 2-1 at home and 1-0 away is hardly a crushing. Game was up in the air until the fantastic pass by Sneijder sprung Eto’o, and Alex didn’t hold the line and kept Eto’o onside. Then a great shot by Eto’o. I agree Chelsea kind of threw in the towel at that point and didn’t really do much after, but prior to that goal, if Chelsea scores one, they win the tie.

    While Chelsea are going in the wrong direction, as others have stated, to then write off the entire EPL is just nonsense. Others have pointed this out.

    Additionally, pointing out Ancelloti as impassive and expressionless, have you watched him at all this entire year? He is always that way. Chelsea scores a great goal and he looks just like that.

    All that said, I agree Chelsea have to do some serious soul searching. They do lack the creativity they have had and especially recently have struggled. As others have mentioned they are extremely missing Essien, but they are also really missing Ashley Cole. He was a big piece of their attack and defenses had to account for him. Those two injuries are truly hurting Chelsea. Add to the fact that Anelka and Terry have fallen out of form from earlier in the season, that things are going well. Lampard too has struggled this season. He found a small string of goals around the turn of the year, but other than that has been lost this season. Drogba and Malouda have had strong seasons – and Ashley Cole was until he was injured, but other than that the Chelsea players have underperformed. Joe Cole isn’t the Joe Cole we knew – Deco can’t even get on the field – Ballack hasn’t done anything – Mikel continues to make dumb passes and isn’t seeming to mature – Terry doesn’t seem to be dealing with the off the pitch issues well and may be starting his down swing too – Kalou can’t finish his chances. Not much left to name… Ivanovic has had a solid season as well, but most of the others have struggled. And now it has come out that Ancelloti will likely be axed if they don’t win the Prem (which I don’t think they will). Then they are running out of potential coaches. Will be interesting to see what Chelsea does – but to circle back, they do need to find that creativity that Sneijder, Fabregas, and others create.

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