Chelsea returned to the Champions League after their season-long hiatus and smashed six goals past a helpless Qarabag FK side
It was a rout that started in as early as the 5th minute, with Pedro firing home the opener and it ended in the 82nd minute with a own goal from Medvedev. In between, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi all managed to get on the scoresheet.
It was a glorious return for the Blues to Europe’s elite football tournament and a performance that should send reminder to the continent’s best sides of what the English Champions are capable of. We take a look at some of the major talking points from Chelsea’s huge victory at Stamford Bridge.
Batshuayi’s Confidence Boost
After what can be described as a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge, albeit one that ended with the League trophy and a flurry of goals, Michy Batshuayi was expected to step up his game this season and provide stiff competition to Alvaro Morata.
However, after an encouraging pre-season tour, the 17/18 campaign started off in the worst possible note. First, the defeat against Arsenal in the Community Shield after which he opened his goalscoring account with an own goal against Tottenham Hotspur in the first derby of the season.
This happens to be only his second start of the season and his 5th appearance this campaign. He scored his first ever Champions League goal and will be undoubtedly relieved to have broken his deadlock. He often seemed isolated upfront and had to drop really deep to try and receive the ball.
He lacked the proper service, with his teammates often choosing to go for glory rather than pass and it is clear that he needs to get better with his back to goal, with possession. The Belgian will certainly have to step up his game given that the Blues have a long season ahead and he certainly has the potential to do so and this goal ought to do wonders for his confidence.
Christensen had a stellar outing on his Champions League for the Blues. Arguably the Blues’ best defender, he was a picture of calmness and composure in Antonio Conte’s three-man defence. There was some intelligent, precise passing and some resolute defending from the Dane.
Andreas Christensen misplaced just two passes vs. Qarabag:
Completed more than any player. ❄️ pic.twitter.com/oWcnIJHbyC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 12, 2017
At first glance, it would be difficult to believe that he’s only 21-years of age given the maturity in his game. This of course, wasn’t his first taste of Champions League football, having played in the competition whilst at Borussia Monchengladbach.
He has been near faultless whenever he has taken to the pitch so far and has all the potential to establish himself in Conte’s starting XI over the course of the season. It is too early to say whether he could prove to be Chelsea’s long-term answer replacement for John Terry, but he certainly has the potential to do so.
Zappacosta’s Stellar Introduction
Chelsea fans, along with most of the footballing world would have been scratching their heads in bewilderment when the news of the Blues’ interest in Davide Zappacosta first broke out and the 25-year-old announced himself to the Stamford Bridge crowd in stunning fashion.
A 50-yard sprint on the right wing which started in his own half, culminated with a stunning 40-yard goal from a frankly outrageous angle. While Conte has since revealed that the wingback meant to cross to the ball, it’s not going to take any gloss off a fine debut performance.
He also managed to provide the assist for Chelsea’s sixth goal from down the right flank. It was a promising debut, he looked good on the ball, extremely fast both with and without it and is capable of putting in a wicked cross. So far, so good for the Italian and Victor Moses finally have some good competition for that right wingback spot.
Sub Par Performance
While the scoreline may suggest that the Blues put in a faultless, world class performance to win by such a resounding margin, it was far from the case. In reality, it was a sub-par performance from a mostly second string Chelsea side.
The Blues were in cruise control most of the time and Qarabag’s performance only helped their cause. The visitors were absolutely woeful on the night and had it not been for their calamitous defending, the scoreline would have likely been halved.
Chelsea were often prone to lapses of concentration themselves, being wasteful in possession and giving away the ball far too many times. Qarabag had 47% of possession, but only managed 5 touches in the Blues’ penalty area – doesn’t speak very highly of the Blues’ possession play on the night.
The Baku-based club, who were making their debut in the competition were taken apart by a Chelsea side who weren’t nearly at their best. Chelsea will undoubtedly have far more difficult tests in Atletico Madrid and AS Roma and they would do well to not get too overconfident by with this victory.