Chelsea got their Champions League campaign underway with a goalless draw with Sevilla at Stamford Bridge this evening.
Frank Lampard’s men came into this game quietly confident of bagging all three points but they were duly frustrated by a well-organised Andualisan side.
Chances were few and far between, with big summer acquisition Timo Werner (3) producing half of the Blues efforts on goal with the visitors threatening a late winner.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.
Winner: Group E rivals
Before kick-off the expectation was both of these sides would comfortably progress into the knockout stages with Champions League minnows Stade Rennais and Krasnodar standing in their way. Given the competition, this was a great opportunity for either to stamp their authority, but that never became the case. Instead all four sides are level peggings heading into matchday two.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 20, 2020
And that’s because Rennes and Krasnodar also played out a draw; Serhou Guirassy gave the French side a 56th-minute lead from the spot, before Cristian Ramirez equalised three minutes later. A trip to Russia beckons for Lampard’s men in a week’s time and the Blues will be desperate to return home with all three points or else this group phase will become unnecessarily tricky.
Loser: Timo Werner
Try as he might, Werner couldn’t make it happen for the hosts. Before last weekend it seemed the German marksman was heading towards a challenging first season at the Bridge, but the way he converted his chances against Southampton it felt that serial RB Leipzig goalscorer was finally unleashed.
During his period with the Bundesliga outfit, he was directly involved in nine goals across 11 Champions League appearances, scoring seven of those. It looked inevitable he’d become the third German player — after Michael Ballack (4 goals) and André Schürrle (2) — to net for Chelsea in the competition, but that wait goes on for at least another game.
Winner: Édouard Mendy
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 20, 2020
All eyes were on the powers that be at Chelsea this summer regarding a potential competition for much-maligned (world’s most expensive) goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and for a while it seemed the Spainard was set to receive a reprieve. But that all changed in late September when Senegalese shot-stopper Édouard Mendy completed a £22m move from Ligue 1 outfit (and Champions League Group E rivals) Rennes, a switch that is looking very much promising.
Heading into today’s game, Mendy kept one clean sheet across two official appearances, which happened to be their only Premier League shutout (against Crystal Palace) to date. Sevilla naturally kept the Montivilliers-born ‘keeper honest, though he was equal to everything Julien Lopetegui’s side threw at him.
Since relocating to Stamford Bridge in 2018, subsequently linking up with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, it’s been a topsy-turvy Chelsea career for deep-lying midfielder Jorginho, who not long ago was described as “exceptional” by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, a statement that couldn’t be repeated this evening. If anything, the 28-year-old Italian international, making appearance number 104 for the Blues and sixth as skipper, was somewhat of a liability.
He could have easily seen red in the opening 45 minutes. A tactical foul earned him a yellow before referee Davide Massa deemed a mistimed high foot as unworthy of another booking. These errors aside, Jorginho struggled to do what he does best, completing 26 of 33 attempted passes (giving him a 79% completion rate compared to partner-in-crime N’Golo Kanté’s 89%), a meagre return from a player reputed for his metronomic skills. He’d ultimately be substituted, replaced by Mateo Kovačić, with 25 minutes of the game remaining.
Winner: Stamford Bridge faithful
Unprecedented circumstances meant Chelsea were missing their 12th man this evening, but on this showing you can argue they were spared from witnessing this dismissal performance, though one can at least wonder if their mere presence could have affected the result towards a positive outcome, we’ll just never know.
? Pospartido #UCL ? EN DIRECTO desde Stamford Bridge ?
— Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) October 20, 2020
Then again, this was a rare blank for the Blues at home in the Champions League as Sevilla became team number three out of 32 previous outings to prevent them from scoring in their own backyard. More worryingly, though, is that the previous two occasions came last season in Lampard’s debut campaign as Valencia and eventual winners Bayern left the Bridge with a tidy clean sheet. So it’s really three misfirings in five European Cup outings.
Loser: Mason Mount
Lampard started with the front-four which bewitched Southampton over the weekend, despite how the scoreline ended, as there was something about their connection which deserved another look. But with momentum being everything in football, those entrusted needed a performance or can expect limited playing time with equally capable players (such as summer recruit Hakim Ziyech) chomping at the bit.
Of the quartet, it was Mason Mount that fell off the pace. He’d collect a yellow card for his troubles, and the England youngster often found it tough out there as he tested his wits against wily veteran Jesús Navas. He was ultimately replaced by the aforementioned Moroccan playmaker just after the hour mark.