Rating the Chelsea Players Against FC Nordsjælland
Chelsea entered Matchday 6 of the Champions League with their fate out of their hands. All they could do was beat Group E minnows, Danish champions FC Nordsjælland and hope that Shakhtar Donetsk could beat Juventus in the Ukraine to enable the reigning European champions to advance.
Despite recording a 6-1 home win, the Blues became the first defending champions to exit the competition at the group stage as Juventus won their game 1-0.
It was a slow start at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts needing two penalties to take a 1-0 lead before grabbing a second goal just before half-time. The fitness levels of the two sides proved to be the difference after the break, as despite conceding a goal seconds after the restart, Chelsea went on to dominate with the final score not flattering to deceive in the slightest.
Many of the Blues players looked far more convincing than they have in other recent games, so here are my individual ratings for each of the starting 11, plus substitutes. I start every player on 5/10 and any positive or negative contributions are added or subtracted accordingly.
Cech saved a penalty in the first half as well as made two or three stops from half-hearted shots. After conceding FC Nordsjælland's first away goal in the Champions League just after half-time, he was essentially a spectator and could probably have caught up with some reading, considering how little he had to do in the way of goalkeeping.
Chelsea's right-back was caught out for FC Nordsjælland's goal and conceded possession in some dangerous areas in the first half, but otherwise looked solid in both attack and defence. Whilst this was not a particularly difficult feat against this opposition, it was reassuring and should give him a boost going forward into a congested run of fixtures.
Always threatening in a set-piece situation, Cahill is now vying with Ivanovic and the injured John Terry to be Chelsea's highest-scoring defender, converting Juan Mata's second-half free kick with a great header. He could have done better at tracking the run of Joshua John for the goal that the Blues conceded, but otherwise put in a solid performance.
The general consensus is that Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back is a little bit crazy, an opinion backed up by his strong resemblance to Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons.
He appeared slow to react sometimes and made some wild, hoofed clearances, as well as conceding a couple of entirely unnecessary corner kicks, but when he focuses he is a powerful player both in defence and attack. He scored Chelsea's second penalty after taking his trademark epic run-up from near the edge of the area.
Ashley Cole added some much-needed width to Chelsea's attack and made some lovely crossfield passes into dangerous areas. He had very little to do insofar as defensive duties go, but was the usual efficient, effective player Chelsea fans have come to love.
Romeu started ahead of John Obi Mikel and was lucky he had little to do as the defensive midfielder. The youngster still looks uncomfortable when really tested, but managed to get a few passes out to the attacking trio in front of him. He needs to work on his positioning, awareness and decision-making or he will be caught out time and again by stronger opposition.
Somebody has been working with the Brazilian on his tackling, and it has begun to pay dividends. Despite his penchant for giving the ball away around the halfway line, he works hard to win it back and always looks threatening when attacking. Tracking box to box is Ramires' speciality, and he has certainly made his case to retain his position in the midfield once Frank Lampard returns from his injury.
Moses is different than many of the players in the Chelsea squad at the moment, as he plays with a quiet confidence that enables him to take on defenders whenever the opportunity arises.
Adding width on the right of the attacking midfield, he linked up well with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard and played a wonderful through ball to Torres for the Spaniard's first goal. He could have had a couple of goals himself but missed his chances.
I have officially run out of superlatives to describe Juan Mata's consistently brilliant performances. The mini midfield maestro scored one goal and created another two, as he and Eden Hazard ran riot for much of the game. His positioning is excellent and he always looks like he wants the ball. When he gets it, his first touch is excellent, and the quality and skill he displays show that there is life in this Chelsea team yet.
The Belgian failed to get on the score sheet after missing the first of Chelsea's penalties with a lazy effort. However, he worked tirelessly throughout the game and set up goals for Mata and Fernando Torres. Like Mata, he always looks a threat when in possession and it regularly takes at least two defenders to stop him in his tracks, creating space for his teammates to run into.
Torres scored a goal in the first half that should have completed his hat-trick, as he had had several attempts before that which looked more like passes to the 'keeper than shots on goal. This trend continued in the second half, but he grabbed his second after a wonderful pass from Hazard.
With better positioning and more ruthless finishing, he could easily have scored five by himself. He went down far too easily many times and was very lucky not to get a yellow card for diving on a few occasions.
Having said that, I truly hope that the two goals he did score will give his confidence a desperately needed lift and spur him on to score many more in the coming weeks and months.
Ryan Bertrand: 6/10
The young left-back came on after 60 minutes in a straight swap for Ashley Cole. He had very little to do and barely touched the ball, but he didn't make any mistakes, which is positive.
Brought on for Ramires with 25 minutes left on the clock, Oscar again looked impressive as he scored Chelsea's sixth goal. In his first season at the club he has scored five goals in the Champions League, including their first and last goals in the competition. Excellent work by the 21-year-old.
Paulo Ferreira: 5/10
Chelsea veteran Ferreira replaced Juan Mata on 75 minutes to give the Spaniard a rest. He had nothing to do in his 15 minutes on the pitch, but it was nice to have it confirmed that he's still around.