Europa League: Winning Goal by Oscar Masks Continuous Struggles of Torres
After a disappointing campaign in the UEFA group stage, Chelsea landed themselves in the Europa League round of 32.
In the first leg of their round of 32 tie with Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic, the Blues showed why they belong in the second tier club competition instead of amongst the elites of Europe this season.
For 82 minutes, the attack-minded players like Juan Mata and Fernando Torres were unable to find the back of the net.
All of the uninspiring and wasteful chances by the likes of Torres and Mata were erased temporarily from the minds of Chelsea fans when Brazilian midfielder Oscar entered the match.
With his first touch of the match, the 21-year-old provided the spark that the Chelsea attack needed.
Oscar took a pass from Eden Hazard and struck a shot with his left foot that found the back of the net in the 82nd minute.
6 - Oscar's winning goal for Chelsea was the Brazilian's sixth goal in seven games in European competition this season. Continental.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 14, 2013
The goal gave Chelsea a much-needed victory and the added bonus of an away goal that will help them out next Thursday in the second leg if they are unable to score against the Czech side again.
While Oscar's sixth European goal of the season will snag all the headlines, the real storyline coming out of the Generali Arena should be the continuous lack of efficiency in front of the goal by Torres.
It was common knowledge that Torres would be counted on to lead the Chelsea attack in the Europa League with Demba Ba cup-tied due to his participation in the competition at the group stage level with Newcastle.
But, once again, Torres did not take the reins of the Chelsea attack and steer them to a victory.
Instead, Torres continued to meander his way up and down the pitch and take shots on goal that failed to cause any concern for the opposing goalkeeper.
With Torres' lack of scoring still being a concern, manager Rafa Benitez should take a look at Victor Moses at the forward position in the second leg.
Moses, who is now back at the club after his African Cup of Nations triumph with Nigeria, should be given a shot by Benitez next Thursday when the two clubs meet at Stamford Bridge.
Moses has been stuck behind Torres, Ba and Daniel Sturridge on the depth chart this season, and the Europa League would be a perfect competition to let the 22-year-old run wild against opposing defenses.
Should Benitez Start Moses over Torres in Second Leg?
The second leg against Sparta Prague is also a perfect match to utilize Moses up front in the 4-2-3-1 formation, because Chelsea's Czech opposition do not pose a threat to pull off an upset at Stamford Bridge in one week's time.
Sparta clearly showed that their current winter break affected them towards the end of the match as their fatigue began to show in the latter stages of the second half.
Going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next week will pose the Czech squad with an even tougher task, and they are expected to go into London and quickly falter during the second leg.
Benitez has not taken too many risks during his time at Chelsea, but he should finally take one next Thursday and let Moses start up front in favor of Torres.
Whether the Moses experiment will work is something that can only be found out if Benitez stops being conservative and takes the big risk of playing Moses up front.
Should Benitez start Moses over Torres next Thursday?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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