Stink, stank, stunk.
I think we can all agree that’s a pretty good way to describe Chelsea’s performance against Atlético Madrid in the Super Cup on Friday night in Monaco.
And although it wasn’t exactly like Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas—after all, the residents of Whoville eventually got their presents back in the end—the Blues did reveal they are far from the perfect club many myopic Chelsea fans thought they were after a wonderful summer transfer window period and a 3-0-0 start in the English Premier League.
Now, I’m not going to over-analyze the match to death here. We all saw what we saw and I know all you religious Chelsea backers were all watching and were as humbled as myself by the dismantling in Stade Louis II.
But what what did we learn from the 90-plus minutes of hell on the Mediterranean Sea?
Stink, stank, stunk.
From the opening whistle, Chelsea’s defense was absolutely pathetic. They looked uninspired, as Atlético pushed forward easily on the counter attack through gaping holes. When Radamel Falcao scored in the sixth minute on a breathtaking finish, it felt like it could be the start of a very long night.
And it was.
With captain John Terry out on a suspension, the Blues' defense seemingly played with no heart or energy, and the speedy Los Rojiblancos took advantage of that weakness.
Falcao connected on a sublime, calm left curl from the box in the 19-minute mark to make it 2-0, and any hopes of a piece of August silverware slowly started floating out of the window.
It’s hard to really blame goalkeeper Petr Čech too much for the four goals in the 4-1 loss, as the Chelsea defense gave Atlético way too much room on the pitch in which to work, and David Luiz and Branislav Ivanović played pretty poorly for my taste.
Usually known for its solid defense, the Blues were simply torn apart by the solid-passing Spanish side, and the match could have very well ended 6-1 or 7-1. It was that bad.
Atlético goalkeeper and Chelsea property Thibaut Courtois was hardly tested in the match, and Blues playmakers Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were virtually invisible.
The bad start seemed to get in the heads of the Chelsea offense and the energy expended and lack of a sense of desperation was really evident. Granted, it was just an annual meeting between the UEFA Champions League winners and the Europa League winners, but for the attack to be so lackluster was a bit disheartening.
“I think (when) Chelsea go forward, it’s more with hope," FOX Soccer Channel analyst Warren Barton commented during the match. “Atlético Madrid, when they go forward, it’s with purpose,”
So true, but kind of hard for the Blues to have purpose in a somewhat meaningless game, where one of the best strikers in the world had a hat trick at halftime and you still really hadn’t had a decent shot on goal.
Friday’s match was probably Chelsea’s worst performance since its Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1 loss at Napoli (3-1) on February 21.
After that dismal outing, Chelsea went on a 5-0-1 tear in the tournament (counting the Bayern Munich game as a win) and outscored its opponents 11-5 in the process en route to winning the title.
Another example of humiliation being a catalyst to turning things around was the Blues' five-game winless streak (0-3-2) heading into the preseason, which included a 3-1 loss at Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion.
Chelsea promptly responded with a three-game win streak to start the new EPL season and gave Blues fans some much-needed optimism.
Hopefully this thrashing will serve as a wake-up call of sorts for the club.
Watching Falcao dominate up front should be a message to management that Chelsea really does need another dominant striker on its roster.
Like he did on Monday against Athletic Bilbao—where he also had a hat trick—the Colombian truly took over the game and made the Blues' defense look porous and put the offense in desperation mode.
With the transfer window having just closed, any hopes of landing a monster like Falcao or Napoli’s Edinson Cavani have apparently now passed.
So it seems Chelsea will live or die with Fernando Torres as its lone starting striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but the absence of a gritty closer like Didier Drogba was quite evident in the team’s disappointing performance in Monaco.
Maybe the recent boardroom troubles at Shanghai Shenhua will help lead to the Chelsea legend someday returning to west London.
After watching on Friday, one can only hope.
If the casual football fan didn’t know about Falcao and Atlético Madrid before the Super Cup, well, now they should.
The 26-year-old striker was on Chelsea’s wish list earlier this summer and the way he has shown he can single-handedly take over a game should scare the daylights out of other clubs in La Liga and all future opponents.
He may not have quite reached the lofty superstar status of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi or Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo just yet, but with six goals this week, nine goals in his last four games and 42 goals in 53 appearances for Atlético, he has served notice that he deserves to at least be in the conversation as one of the most dominant players on the planet.
He is that good.
In short, this game meant much more to Los Rojiblancos than it did to Chelsea. If the Blues beat Atlético, they were simply supposed to. And if Atlético beat Chelsea, it would be big news. And they did. And it now is.
As humbling and hard to swallow as it may be for EPL and English football fans, the match revealed that La Liga is now likely just as good as the Premiership and the level of play in Spain is just as good, if not a little bit better, than it is in England.
And before you react too quickly and want to cite Chelsea’s win over Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal to say it’s not true, remember La Liga had two of the last four teams alive in the Champions League last season (Barcelona and Real Madrid) and had the last two standing in the Europa League (Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao).
No small feat.
Yeah, the defeat hurt quite a bit, but remember, there weren’t any points involved and the Blues are still undefeated in league play, got a pretty nice draw in the Champions League on Thursday, had a phenomenal summer transfer window period and are still defending FA Cup and European champions and will be for some time.
The showing hurt, as was evident on Twitter, and I know you diehard Bluebloods want to vent, so let me know what you think the club should do about all this—or if it’s no big deal—in the comment section below.
Is it the end of the world? Certainly not.
Is there cause for some concern? To me, there just might be after watching today.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11