Chelsea came away with a tie in Madrid on Tuesday, but it came at an exceptionally high cost. The team has lost both first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech and team captain John Terry for the rest of the season.
Cech has a dislocated shoulder that may require surgery, while Terry will miss at least a month with a foot injury. Both will miss both the next leg of the Champions League as well as the key match with Liverpool this weekend.
It took one awkward fall to take perhaps the world's best goalkeeper out of the Champions League and the remainder of the Barclays Premier League season. Chelsea's Petr Cech has a dislocated shoulder and is done for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign, leaving his team to rely on 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer.
Replays were not clear whether Cech was undercut during his defense of a corner, but it was clear that he landed on his outstretched right arm. The force of the fall and his body pushed the humeral head out of joint, and it took several minutes for Dr. Eva Carneiro to stabilize Cech's arm enough for him to walk off the pitch. The joint was later reduced, or popped back into place.
Tests will be run later this week to see if there was any soft-tissue damage inside Cech's shoulder. Depending on the findings, Cech could still need surgery to clear things up, which could put next season in jeopardy for Cech (Cech's Czech Republic squad did not qualify for the World Cup this summer).
That could put pressure on Chelsea to hold on to Thibault Courtois, who was across the pitch for Atletico Madrid. Courtois is still under contract with Chelsea despite his repeated loans to Atletico, where he has emerged as one of the best young keepers in the world.
Schwarzer will be Jose Mourinho's first option without Cech for the remainder of the season, backed by longtime reserve Hilario. Schwarzer has made seven appearances with Chelsea while the team rested Cech, though only one came during League play. The Blues also have Jamal Blackman available, but the 20-year-old is unlikely to be called up despite his emergence with England's youth squad.
For John Terry, the injury was as clear as it was painful. Terry rolled his ankle after stepping on David Luiz during defense of a free-kick. He immediately went down, raising fears that this was more than a simple sprain. With the lightness of modern boots, there's neither a significant amount of support nor protection on the top of the foot. This has led many to think that the increase in midfoot injuries is connected.
While Chelsea has not yet detailed Terry's injury, the time frame and mechanism does give some clues. A fracture or Lisfranc injury would take longer than a month to heal from, so those can be safely discounted. The most likely case is that he has a simple but serious sprain. The ankle can clearly be seen rolling out over Luiz's foot. Terry was able to walk off under his own power, but ankle injuries like this can swell significantly afterwards.
Terry was replaced on the pitch by Andre Schurrle, with Ramires dropping into central defense. Going forward, it is more likely that Branislav Ivanovic will move alongside Gary Cahill. Ivanovic was ineligible on Tuesday due to yellow cards. Tomas Kalac would be the other in position option along with David Luiz, who has emerged as a midfielder.
With Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o also unlikely to be available for the next couple matches, Jose Mourinho will have to rely more on tactics than talent, something stunning for a giant club like Chelsea, but a challenge that The Special One will relish. Without two talented leaders on the pitch, Chelsea faces huge challenges over the next week as they chase two trophies.
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