Chelsea were given a lesson in counter-attacking football with a 4-1 thrashing by Atlético Madrid in last night's UEFA Super Cup final. Radamel Falcao was once again the star of the show, scoring a hatrick in the first half - his second three-goal haul in 4 days.
Chelsea came into the game brimming with confidence - the European Champions hadn't lost to Spanish opponents in their past 13 fixtures, a record that includes the scalp of Barcelona in last year's UEFA Champions League. Atlético Madrid were also coming off a similar run of success, winning their last 12 European fixtures, and enjoying a 4-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao on Monday night.
Although the Super Cup is more of a formality than anything else, both sides fielded strong teams, and on paper the game was shaping up to be a closely fought battle.
From the 4th minute on however, Atlético were in complete control. Felipe Luis was played in on the left of the area, and deftly crossed the ball into the path of Falcao, who could only bang it against the crossbar thanks to pressure by Ashley Cole. David Luiz attempted to clear the ball but made a hash of it, bringing down Adrian, but the referee waved away cries of a penalty. It didn't take long for Atlético to strike again, and 2 minutes later Falcao opened the scoring. A threaded pass behind the Chelsea defence found Gabi, who layed off to Falcao. The striker waited for Cech to come out before deftly clipping the ball over the keeper and in off the post.
Chelsea seemed to wake up a little after the goal, and enjoyed a brief stint of possession, however a combination of poor crossing in the final third and stoic defending by Atlético saw them struggle to make anything out of it. In the 19th minute, Falcao struck again; Chelsea lost the ball in the midfield and the resulting counter attack allowed Koke to play a pass to Falcao. Shocking defending saw Luiz let the ball roll past him, and then inexplicably, Cole and Luiz gave the Colombian sharp-shooter time to line-up a sensationally struck curling shot past Cech into the left corner.
Chelsea were in damage control at this point - every time Atlético picked up the ball they surged forward, displaying a fluidity in the midfield that left the Chelsea backline flat footed. It took 2 smart saves by Cech to stop the lead from doubling, but constant pressure by Atlético saw Falcao pick up his third of the night just before halftime. A poor Chelsea corner (their first of the night) allowed the ball to get picked up by Arda just outside the Atlético box. He then ran 60 yards completely unchallenged by a Chelsea player and timed his pass to Falcao perfectly. The striker once again showed just how clinical he is with a cool finish between the legs of Cech.
The second half saw a slightly better display by Chelsea, but they still couldn't seem to make anything out of their chances, and the usually brilliant Hazard and Mata struggled to make an impact. The game was soon put to bed with Atlético fourth of the night thanks once again to woeful defending by Chelsea's backline. A free kick on Chelsea's right flank should have been dealt with fairly easily, but chaos in the box saw the ball land at Atletico defender Miranda's feet, who swept it in off Cahill.
Chelsea did manage one back with 15 minutes left on the clock through Gary Cahill. It was good work from the defender, who attacked a corner by Lampard, reacting quickest and dispatching the ball between Courtois' legs. Despite that it was a completely one-sided affair, and Chelsea were deservedly trounced by the Europa League Champions.
Quite frankly, the Blues were outclassed in every sense of the word. Lampard was virtually non-existent in the middle of the park, and although Mikel (of all people) showed brief glimpses of skill going forward, he kept getting exposed by Atlético clinical counterattacks. Mata, Ramires and Hazard were all subpar, while Torres did not receive the kind of service he needed to cause Courtois any concern. The main issue Di Matteo will need to address is Chelsea's backline, who struggled to deal with Atlético pace going forward. Oscar was the one bright spark in Chelsea's midfield, and he played well after coming on for Ramires at halftime.
Ashley Cole put it perfectly after the game, saying on Twitter, "Well that was a lesson, absolute joke no fight, desire, passion, and a big reality check!!!!!! Sorrycfcfans."
Atlético Madrid Verdict:
Radamel Falcao justified the claims that he is currently the world's most dangerous number 9. On he his day he is unstoppable, and Chelsea had absolutely no answer to him. It wasn't only Falcao though - the entire Atletico midfield played extremely well, and each counter looked dangerous. Arda Turan, Koke and Adrian were incredible going forward, while Miranda, Kasmirki and Godin kept Chelsea's threat on goal to an absolute minimum. It's unfortunate that Champions League fans won't see their brilliant brand of attacking football this season, as the Spanish side finished 5th in their last campaign.
Chelsea Atlético Madrid
1 Petr Cech Thibaut Courtois 13
3 Ashley Cole Filipe Kasmirski 3
24 Gary Cahill Diego Godín 2
2 Branislav Ivanovic Miranda 23
4 David Luiz Gabi 14
8 Frank Lampard Francisco Juanfran 20
12 John Mikel Obi Mario Suárez 4
7 Ramires Arda Turan 10
17 Eden Hazard Koke 6
9 Fernando Torres Adrián 7
10 Juan Mata Falcao 9
22 Ross Turnbull Sergio Asenjo 1
34 Ryan Bertrand Daniel Alberto Diaz 18
16 Raul Meireles Silvio 17
13 Victor Moses Belozoglu Emre 21
11 Oscar Raúl García 8
6 Oriol Romeu Cristian Rodriguez 11
23 Daniel Sturridge Costa Diego 19
Oscar for Ramires (46)
Cristian Rodriguez for Adrián (56)
Daniel Sturridge for Juan Mata (81)
Raúl García for Koke (81)
Ryan Bertrand for Ashley Cole (89)
Belozoglu Emre for Falcao (87)