Chelsea were back in action in Europe yesterday night. After their historic triumph in May and several departures from the squad albeit with a few notable additions, the Stamford Bridge crowd was eager to get on with it. The Champions League trophy was duly paraded before the adoring home crowd and chants of "We're the champions of Europe" resonated throughout the stadium. Juventus, the Old lady of Turin was in no mood to submit to Chelsea's carnival atmosphere, certainly when they have a certain Italian master on their books. The task was simple for Juventus. They had to exploit the weaknesses Chelsea have shown this season, despite their solid start this term. Add their own 42 match unbeaten run in the Serie A, Juventus could be excused for going for a win at the Bridge. Besides, returning to Europe's premier competition after a hiatus may have irked some of their cultured technicians. Even on that account alone, this match promised so much.
Although the match eventually ended 2-2, both teams had their moments and how! Brazilian wonderkid Oscar announced his arrival in European football with two goals, the second of which will be replayed across the world many times over. Such was the finesse his first touch carried that he was clear of two defenders marking him. Although the ball went farther from goal, he puffed his cheek and let fly a curler that eluded the hands of one of Europe's finest goalkeepers, Buffon. If Buffon indeed did not enjoy the strike, no one could blame him. It was a sucker punch or so it seemed to the Chelsea faithful. Juventus replied in no time with a polished finish from Aruturo Vidal. The match was end-to-end and far too nervy for Chelsea fans. But Juventus caused the Chelsea defence numerous problems. In the end, Juve equalised with a neat finish from Qualigrella. The mistake was made by John Terry, the club captain often at the heart of everything good Chelsea has done over the last decade. In Europe, the difference between a mistake that goes unpunished and a mistake that yields a goal for the opposition is very slim. Terry should attest to that. In between, Hazard had a very strong penalty claim turned down. Di Matteo made his unhappiness very clear in the post-match interview.
Overall, this match was a frustrating one for the blues. Having established a two goal lead against a good Juventus side would come as a disapointment for sure. John Obi Mikel's inaction after he made a mistake resulted in the first goal. That should give Di Matteo some cause for concern. But the match will be remembered for Chelsea new Number 11, Oscar. It is no easy task replacing the club legend who just won the club the Champions League trophy. It is no easy feat carving a name before the Bridge faithful in that number 11 shirt, for Didier Drigba wore it with such distinction and unabashed passion over the years. But somewhere in China, if Drogba watched Oscar fool Chiellini, one of Europe's finest defenders, and curl in an effort beyond Buffon, he would have smiled for sure. For Oscar is a diamond, rough around the edges and one that needs polishing. But there are enough signs to show that Oscar, Mata and Hazard could very well turn out to be the trio that defines Chelsea over the coming years. And Oscar began his term at the Bridge in the true sense yesterday night, with the crowd chanting his name ringing in his ears as he came off for Juan Mata. Di Matteo, for his part, has to let the magic happen because his players want to show, to even flaunt their artistry and he knows it's only Chelsea that stands to gain from it.793826