Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - 1 Chelsea FC

Group E

1FC Shakhtar Donetsk FC Shakhtar Donetsk32000102105237
2Chelsea FC Chelsea FC30101011117434
3Juventus Juventus30100200304403
4FC Nordsjælland FC Nordsjælland301100101217-61

Group E is shaping up to be quite interesting.  We've got two absolute football powerhouses in a group with two, how shall we say it? non-powerhouse teams.  Of course, one can always argue that any team in the Champions League is a top team - by definition a team has to finish in the top of their league or win the Europa to even qualify.  Teams like Tottenham Hotspur did not even qualify for the competition.  We're talking about the very best of the best.  And yet teams out of Belgium, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Denmark, and the Netherlands never seem to have as much success as teams out of Germany, England, Spain, and Italy. 

So what we're seeing in Group E is absolutely astounding.  Now certainly FC Nordsjaelland (I don't even have the correct font on my computer to spell it) are exactly where you would expect in the group but you would never expect them to have played a draw with Juventus!  Well, except that Juventus have tied all of their first three games.  But look at the delight in these players from scoring against the Italian giants:

Joys of football
 It was a good night for Danish footballer Mikkel Beckmann.

But if Juventus will rue the loss of two points at the hands of an unlikely Danish side, how will Chelsea fare when contemplating their loss against FC Shakhtar Donetsk?  It is clear that Shakhtar are much better than many have given them credit for and the team is on a surprising streak of 21 straight wins in their domestic league. It seems like all the wins at home have not tired them out for European play, but have merely primed them for a higher level of competition.  And congratulations to them for beating Chelsea and beating them soundly.  I wouldn't be too surprised if Shakhtar make it to the knockout stages and I would actually prefer they do over Juventus.

Overall Chelsea has not done well in this group.  They've tied Juventus and lost to Donetsk.  It seems like Juventus has a strange affinity for drawing with the other teams and I hope that continues. Chelsea will need to do better to ensure their advance into the knockout stages.  It was good to see Oscar get a goal but sad to see an injury to Frank Lampard. 

Is that Fernando Torres back there sipping a cup of tea?

I expect that Di Matteo will need to focus a bit more on this group in the latter stages to ensure Chelsea progress.  However, it is difficult to balance the domestic league campaign with their European goals.  Indeed, last year they were so poor domestically they wouldn't have qualified for the Champions League had they not won it all, which happily they did. This year the challenge is to finish in the top two or three domestically and defend their title in the Champions League. 

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