Jose Enrique watched on as Chelsea escaped Anfield with a 2-0 win on Sunday, despite Jose Mourinho's decision to deploy a defensive side that only looks to attack on the break.
This strategy failed to overcome Atletico Madrid in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg, as Chelsea succumbed to a scoreline of 3-1 both on aggregate and the night.
They paid the price for showing no ambition in the first leg and for fielding six defenders in the second. Enrique mocked Mourinho's style, per the Spanish full-back's Twitter account:
Enrique wasn't the only professional associated with Liverpool to damn the Special One's performance. Former centre-back Jamie Carragher, now a pundit with Sky Sports, indicated Mourinho pulled the trigger too soon when bringing Samuel Eto'o on for left-back Ashley Cole in the 54th minute, per John Drayton of the Daily Mail:
They had an off night defensively and didn't have enough creativity. I thought it was a bit early to go two up front and leave two in midfield. It had been a tight game. I thought Mourinho had patience in these big games but I think he went a bit early with the substitution.
Both Mourinho and Chelsea's lack of effectiveness came as a stark contrast to the Merseyside display. The Blues allowed Atletico to swamp them once Diego Costa slammed home his penalty for the Rojiblancos' vital second.
This capitulation was partly down to Mourinho's aforementioned tactical blunder—highlighted by Eto'o conceding the spot-kick—and it was also emphasised by the away-goal rule ensuring Chelsea had little hope of recovering.
The home side's counter-attack soon dissipated, leaving Atletico comfortable in possession and searching for more. When Arda Turan coolly slotted into Mark Schwarzer's open net after hitting the bar, there was never a sense Chelsea possessed the attacking presence to stage a comeback.
Many of the players may be wondering why they didn't attack their Spanish opponents more avidly across both legs. Mourinho was happy to let the first tie pass him by without notching an away goal, believing Chelsea's home form would see them through, but such liberties can't be taken in the Champions League.
Eden Hazard was left frustrated with his manager's tactical choices, telling French station beIN Sport, "Chelsea is not made to play football," per The Guardian. Although he suggested "we're good on the counter," the Premier League outfit were unable to carve open many clear opportunities against Diego Simeone's well-organised La Liga leaders.
Mourinho's attention now turns toward the Premier League, where it seems Chelsea are unlikely to finish as champions.
Although beating Liverpool thrust the West London side back into contention, Chelsea need both the Reds and Manchester City to drop points across the final cluster of games. Presuming, of course, Mourinho's side grab three points during the last two matches against Norwich and Cardiff.
Chelsea's Champions League exit underlines the notion that top teams can't afford to rest on their laurels. Mourinho's tactical efficiency was a telling factor in both the Anfield victory and loss to Atletico, but ironically, Chelsea only fell apart when they opted to attack.
It now seems likely Mourinho's returning season will finish trophyless. His side have remained competitive to the last, but when looking back at the current campaign, both the manager and supporters are likely to acknowledge this is one of Chelsea's weakest overall squads in recent memory.
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