Grading the Chelsea Players on Their Champions League Performance vs. Schalke

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2014

Grading the Chelsea Players on Their Champions League Performance vs. Schalke

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    Despite a dominant performance, Chelsea drew their opening game of the new Champions League campaign this week, finishing up 1-1 with Schalke.

    Cesc Fabregas gave them a 1-0 lead in the first half, linking up well with Eden Hazard to fire past Ralf Fahrmann after just 11 minutes.

    From there, Chelsea were expected to finish Schalke off, but the Germans held on and eventually got a goal themselves through Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on the hour.

    Chelsea continued to dominate and Loic Remy almost made an immediate impact when coming off the bench late on, seeing his effort headed off the line.

    Jose Mourinho's side couldn't find a way through, though, and on the back of an improved performance after the interval, Jens Keller's Schalke proved good value for their point.

    Who were the star players for Chelsea on Matchday 1 and who needs to improve ahead of the trip to Lisbon in a fortnight, when the Blues face Sporting?

    Bleacher Report looks at the player ratings from Wednesday's action.

Goalkeeper

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    Thibaut Courtois

    Now Chelsea's No. 1 goalkeeper ahead of Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois has some big shoes to fill.

    He has impressed thus far, but given the Champions League is a break from Premier League action, many had anticipated Cech to be given some game time against Schalke.

    Courtois received the nod, though, and was rarely tested. Schalke had a total of seven shots on target, but other than Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's goal, few pushed Courtois to the limits of his ability.

    Kevin-Prince Boateng's first-half effort forced Courtois into a good save, although there was little else to trouble him.

    Rating: 7

Defenders

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    Branislav Ivanovic

    It says so much about Chelsea's performance, that Branislav Ivanovic was rated so highly on Wednesday based on what he achieved in the opposition half as opposed to his own.

    Normally we're applauding the Serbian for a solid defensive display, although against Schalke, he was a man possessed on the flank.

    He gave Chelsea plenty of width going forward and carved out a few openings that, on another day, could have seen Didier Drogba or another teammate adding their name to the score sheet.

    Rating: 8

    Filipe Luis

    Making his full debut for Chelsea, Filipe Luis looked confident and while not 100 per cent match fit, didn't put a foot wrong against Schalke.

    He was solid at left-back, although, unlike Ivanovic, struggled to get forward and make a considerable impact on the attack.

    Whether that's tactics remains to be seen, although it's a feature with Cesar Azpilicueta, who often holds a disciplined line on the left side.

    There's certainly more to come from the Brazilian, but he'll be happy to get a full 90 minutes under his belt.

    Rating: 6

    John Terry

    Of all the Chelsea defenders, it would have been John Terry having a sleepless night on the back of the Schalke draw.

    Not that he was culpable for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's goal, but more because he's a player who prides himself on never conceding.

    Chelsea are conceding too many goals right now, though, and Terry needs to get back the sharpness we saw in 2013/14 to ensure it doesn't come back to bite them.

    A draw is far from a travesty, yet they need to add clean sheets to their game in order to build their challenge at home and abroad.

    He scored a wonderful long-range goal against Schalke on Wednesday, but unfortunately for Terry the referee had long blown his whistle for an infringement.

    Rating: 6

    Gary Cahill

    The Englishman has grown into a fine defender since joining Chelsea in January 2012. His partnership with John Terry has flourished, yet this season the pair seem shaky.

    They weren't put under too much pressure from Schalke, but still found themselves conceding a seventh goal in five games.

    Cahill was confident going forward for Chelsea, getting attacks started by picking out his more talented teammates in midfield.

    At the back, there was a sign of nerves, though, and he wasn't as polished as we've come to expect.

    Not his worst night, but not his greatest, either.

    Rating: 6

Midfielders

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    Cesc Fabregas

    The Spaniard probably just shades it as Chelsea's man of the match against Schalke given he scored his team's only goal.

    Had it been Eden Hazard finding the back of the net, the award would be going to the Belgian, such were the fine lines between the performances of the deadly duo.

    Fabregas was in fine form again for Chelsea, at the heart of every move and controlling the game from midfield.

    He received more passes than any player in the entire game (53) and his success rate of 87 per cent was also impressive.

    Overall, another excellent performance.

    Rating: 9

    Eden Hazard

    Looking as deadly as ever, Eden Hazard has started 2014/15 in good spirits. When he's playing alongside Cesc Fabregas, it's not hard to be, either.

    The Belgian is forming quite the relationship with Fabregas and as the season develops, if it continues, Chelsea are going to find themselves scoring plenty more goals.

    Hazard was a constant threat to Schalke, pushing them onto the back foot and giving the defence few moments of rest.

    He'll be vital against Manchester City on Sunday.

    Rating: 9

    Nemanja Matic

    Not much gets through the Chelsea midfield when Nemanja Matic is on the scene—or at least it didn't last season.

    The Serbian has been influential in giving Chelsea a solid base from the back, although he needs to be sharper in the pivot to help turn around their recent knack for conceding goals.

    He was caught in possession on a few occasions against Schalke and needs to be a bit more aware of the game around him.

    Rating: 6

    Ramires

    From being a man at risk of being forgotten, Ramires has returned from the World Cup and hinted at rediscovering his Chelsea form of old.

    The Brazilian was once vital to Chelsea, although the past couple of seasons have witnessed a dip.

    He continued his good form from this term against Schalke on Wednesday, influencing the game defensively and in attacks. He even picked out Cesc Fabregas for a good chance in the first half, but he missed.

    More of the same from Ramires and Mourinho will be given a selection headache.

    Rating: 7

    Willian

    It was a strange display from Willian against Schalke. There was the usual energy and endeavour, but he drifted in and out of the action—a fact supported by his stats, where Willian attempted just 29 passes all game, the second lowest for an outfield player behind Didier Driogba.

    He hasn't played much this season, so he's probably suffering from a bout of rustiness, which is understandable.

    Largely forgettable on Wednesday.

    Rating: 6

Striker

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    Didier Drogba

    When a player comes with the profile of Didier Drogba, we can sometimes be guilty of expecting too much.

    It was probably the case against Schalke, where Drogba struggled to make an impact in front of goal.

    He wasn't the same potent threat we knew from his first spell with the club, but then again, he is 36 and this was his first full game back.

    Added to that, he is in the road to recovery from an ankle injury.

    The real judgement of Drogba will come later on in the season and he will be hoping this game was a blip more than anything.

    He had some good opportunities to score, so will be kicking himself for not making the most of his chances.

    Rating: 6

Substitutes

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    Diego Costa

    Arriving as a 74th-minute substitute, it was perhaps greedy of Jose Mourinho to expect Diego Costa to score the winning goal, especially after everything he has achieved of late.

    The Spaniard never quite got into the flow of the game and was largely ineffective compared to what we know he can do.

    Rating: 6

    Loic Remy

    While Diego Costa struggled to make an impact, it was the opposite for Loic Remy.

    The French striker came on at the same time as Costa and almost scored soon after, his effort being headed off the line.

    The chance had come from a free-kick he won, too, so Remy almost graced Stamford Bridge with his second goal in as many substitute appearances.

    He's already looking like a shrewd signing by Jose Mourinho.

    Rating: 7

    Oscar

    Replacing Ramires on 67 minutes, Oscar didn't have the impact his manager would have hoped for. He looked off the pace and didn't get involved as much as we would have expected.

    The game needed a spark of energy from Chelsea's perspective, but with Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Schurrle both left out, Oscar was the only option available for the manager.

    As ever, being left with 20 minutes to make an impact isn't always the best thing for a player.

    Rating: 6

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes