Football News

More Schubert than Mozart: Chelsea fail in front of goal again as Dortmund hold lead

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:12, 15 February 2023

Chelsea will have to come from behind in their Champions League last 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund after a 1-0 defeat in the first leg.

The Blues went into the game out of form, managing just one win from eight games across all competitions in 2023 with three straight draws since beating Crystal Palace 1-0 a month ago. Chelsea’s biggest problem during that run, and across the season as a whole, has been their attack.

In 31 games across all competitions this season, under both Potter and Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have scored 33 goals. To put that into perspective, Erling Haaland scored his 32nd goal in Manchester City’s 3-1 Premier League win over Arsenal – chasing Chelsea by one goal despite playing 30 matches and being a single player.

Chelsea worked hard to remedy it in the January transfer window, signing David Datro Fofana, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke but they were still without a recognised striker. Plus, only Felix and Mudryk were registered for Chelsea’s Champions League squad, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left out.

That meant there was a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Felix, who has had moments of magic since joining Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid.

“He’s like Mozart when he plays. He’s just so graceful the way he plays football,” Rio Ferdinand said of Felix before the game.

“His manipulation of the ball, the way he picks up spots in the game where he can separate himself from defenders, his awareness of space and players around him. He’s got it all. I think the only thing that’s kind of stunted his growth is actually his choice of team.

“I think Atletico Madrid were never the right fit for him, the way that [Diego] Simeone deploys his strikers. He plays like a defensive midfielder for them almost.

“But this kid, you get him in the right areas, he can unlock what you want.”

Joe Cole added: “I don’t think they’ve had a player that the fans can really engage and connect to since Eden Hazard, where they absolutely love and he’s going to get them off their feet.”

But Felix was more Franz Schubert than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on Wednesday night, with the Portuguese star struggling in his finishing. On his own, Felix had four shots, all coming inside the box, but only hit the target once with a tame effort that really didn’t test the excellent Gregor Kobel in the Dortmund goal.

Felix wasn’t alone with his struggles either. Three other players had four shots for Chelsea, but Enzo Fernandez, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz also barely tested Kobel. In total. Chelsea had 21 shots and they only started racking up the accurate efforts late in the game with shots straight at Kobel.

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By contrast, Dortmund had 14 shots and hit the target just twice, with both coming within six minutes of each other. And, crucially, the second shot on target found the back of the net. It was a killer counter attack from Karim Adeyemi from a Chelsea corner, with the German collecting the ball inside his own half before beating Fernandez in a foot race and rounding Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea had tried to hit Dortmund on the counter on numerous occasions in the game but, the same old story, they lacked the clinical nature from their attacking players.

The Blues have now scored just four goals in nine matches across all competitions since the start of the year, and the blame for that cannot be put on Graham Potter.