Napoli vs. Chelsea: 5 Things We Learned About Blues in Spectacular Victory
After 90 minutes, the Blues were up 3-1, which left the aggregate score at an even 4-4. After great improvisation from Ramires and Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic smashed home the winner in the 105th minute.
The odds were stacked up against Chelsea. Heck, I didn't even think the Blues could pull it off, and I like to consider myself one of the most optimistic (delusional at times) supporters out there.
Regardless, Chelsea responded. Everyone stepped up, and they flat out dominated Napoli in every facet of the match.
With such a dominating performance, Chelsea taught everyone a lot about the team. Here's a quick list of what we actually learned from this legendary night in London.
Old Guard Can Still Play
After all the doubts and whisperings of their demise, the old guard came to play against Napoli.
Didier Drogba played like a man possessed. John Terry was sure in his tackling and smart with his marking. Frank Lampard was all over the pitch and converted the penalty when called upon.
Ashley Cole and Michael Essien didn't do anything special, but they certainly locked up their respective positions defensively. Additionally, Petr Cech played another superb game in goal.
Those six played like it was the 2009-10 season all over again. They were aggressive, powerful and dangerous. They were clever enough, but it was their muscle that took down Napoli.
Many people (myself included) thought the old guard at Chelsea had gotten too old. This dominant performance proved that's far from true.
David Luiz Can Be a World-Class Centre-Back
With the old guard standing out like it did, it's easy to overlook how massive David Luiz played in the win.
He had a few reckless challenges, and he pushed forward a bit too far a few times. However, Luiz was one of the best players on the pitch.
Even after picking up a slight injury towards the end of the game, Luiz fought through it and finished (Chelsea were out of subs). He switched positions with Michael Essien, and Luiz did just fine holding the midfield down for the final minutes.
Sometimes, Luiz might be too energetic for his own good. Against Napoli, though, he was able to balance his recklessness with some composure, proving that he can indeed be a world-class centre-back someday.
Roberto Di Matteo Is an Awkward Hugger
Look, I'm happy Chelsea won too. Still, shouldn't the person you're hugging be at least half as into it as you are?
Chelsea Are Ready to Make a Run
Just when Chelsea's season appeared to be dead, the Blues rattle off three wins in a row.
While these performances make Andre Villas-Boas look like the only problem, Chelsea aren't in the clear yet. Currently, Chelsea still aren't in the top four of the EPL.
Arsenal are on fire and Tottenham Hotspur are in a free fall, but Chelsea don't care whom they catch. Still, Chelsea need to catch somebody, and they are still three points (four points of Spurs) back.
With an FA Cup tie this weekend, Chelsea can still win a trophy in England this year. Meanwhile, they are praying for anybody but Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League draw (as well as Bayern, Milan and Marseille).
With the way Chelsea have looked revitalized over the past nine days, anything seems possible. Chelsea will most likely not win the Champions League, but staying in Europe's top competition just a little bit longer brings pride to the club, as well as to England.
The last two months of the season will be great for all football fans. Chelsea just need to make sure they're great for the club and its fans.
Roberto Di Matteo Can Win Under Pressure
Although it's a close call, I'm not ready to say Chelsea should hire Roberto Di Matteo full time.
Yes, he's done a great job since taking over, but that wasn't even two weeks ago. Give the man some time before we dub him the next "Special One."
Di Matteo won his first match. Big. He won his second match (first in the Premier League). Bigger. He overcame a 3-1 deficit to advance in the Champions League. Unreal.
Di Matteo drew up the perfect game plan for Chelsea, and he played the players he could trust. Chelsea got the ball wide and swung in some great crosses into the suspect Napoli defense. The defensive line pushed up, but they never let Napoli attackers behind them.
It was just a perfect game plan.
If Di Matteo finishes the season strong and gets Chelsea where they want to be, then he deserves the job. However, the job shouldn't be given to anyone until the summer. There's no reason to rush, it so Roman Abramovich just needs to sit back and wait to see what happens.
I wouldn't mind seeing Di Matteo manage Chelsea, but, again, it isn't a decision for March. He's done well so far, and he can win under pressure. For now, that's good enough.