By Kieran Lovelock
Demand for tickets for this Champions League knockout clash was so low that Chelsea took the unusual step of putting them on general sale only to still see the attendance fall 5000 short of capacity. However given the score line and general pattern of this game one must wonder if the Chelsea fans are indeed clairvoyant.
Copenhagen deserved credit for coming to London with the desire to attack Chelsea and in turn were rewarded with a performance full of possession and pretty football, even in the final third. However for all their desire to play the right way the Danish champions ultimately lacked the quality to break down a strong Chelsea back line.
After the game Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken admitted that his side lacked the quality to penetrate Chelsea’s backline. “My players simply lacked the quality to break down Chelsea. Cole, Ivanovic and Terry are high quality players and for my team to measure themselves against world class performers was a tremendous experience for us.”
Throughout the affair Copenhagen pushed high up the pitch in turn leaving themselves susceptible to Chelsea’s counter attack which was proved by the simple fact that the home side were caught off side 6 times within the first half an hour.
Zhirkov shot wide, Anelka blazed over and Ashley Cole was caught in two minds as to whether to shoot or cross and ended up doing neither all of which added up to no real saves being forced by the home side.
The highlight of an otherwise dull first half came in the 25th minute when Copenhagen striker Dame N’Doye caught Cech flat footed from a free kick and saw his shot crash off the upright. One wonders how the game would have progressed had it gone in.
The second period began much the same way that the first half ended with Chelsea applying pressure on the counter attack but failing to convert due to some hesitancy from Anelka combined with some excellent defending from the impressive Mikael Antonsson.
By this point the Copenhagen faithful were singing songs in fluent English as they desperately tried to get their team, who were appearing in the knockout stages for the first time in the clubs history, to breakdown the home side.
But it wouldn’t come despite some dangerous crosses being put in the box along with the introduction of 17 year old Kenneth Zohore (Who is allegedly one of Didier Drogba’s distant cousins) to try and batter his way through to goal.
Fernando Torres was introduced in place of Anelka in the 67th minute but was yet again pedestrian throughout. It is hard to remember a player with such proven pedigree being made to look as lost as Torres has over the past few months but this was another non threatening performance from the Spaniard and Carlo Ancelloti must be wondering as to when his big signing will start to make an impact.
In his program notes the Chelsea boss stated that his team must be focused for this game and they undoubtedly were in not allowing Copenhagen to progress in their penalty area with any real threat. However, having twenty five shots on goal without scoring will soon leave them stranded at this level and Ancelotti knows it.
In his press conference after the game the Italian said: “We played well tonight and created many chances but in the future we must score as all the teams left in the competition can score goals at any moment.”
It was revealed this week that Barcelona only ever work on their off the ball play in training leading them to be even better in defence then they are going forward, in turn meaning that if Chelsea are to win the Champions League this season then they had better learn to punish teams when the opportunity arises.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Invanovic, Cole; Ramires, Mikel (Essien 85), Lampard, Zhirkov (Malouda 74); Drogba, Anelka (Torres 67). Subs not used: Turnbull, Kalou, McEachran, Ferreira
Copenhagen: (4-4-1-1): Wiland; Wendt, Zanka Jorgensen, Antonsson, Bengtsson (Zohore 60); Bolanos (Kristensen 90), Claudemir, Kvist, Vingarrd (Santin 73); Gronkjaer; N’Doye. Subs not used: Christensen, Bergvold, Hooiveld, Delaney.
Booked: Claudimier, Bolanos
Man of Match: Mikael Antonsson
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)
|25 (7)||Shots on goal (on target)||8 (2)|