Chelsea took a big leap in progressing to the last four of the Europa League with a 0-1 away against Slavia Prague. It was Marcus Alonso who scored the solitary goal in the game to hand Sarri and his men a crucial away win. Despite the win the Blues were not at their best and were also far from convincing. It was the hosts who gave a good account of themselves in a rather bland first half. But the Blues got their first chance to open the floodgates when Willian shot crashed off the bar.
It was Eden Hazard’s arrival after the interval which changed the game for the Londoners, as he raised the tempo of their attack with Rudiger coming up with a stunning volley which was saved and Willian came close to scoring again in the second half.
Finally, their efforts bore fruit and the winner came in the 85th minute when Willian’s pinpoint delivery was headed home by Marcus Alonso to steer his side to the finishing line and handing Chelsea the advantage going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
3. Unconvincing Chelsea somehow got over the line
It was a disappointing display from the Blues after some great form in the Premier League. Maurizio Sarri’s men probably took the game too casually considering their opponents and almost paid for it until Alonso came up with a winner to save them from the embarrassment.
A shabby first half where they were pressed high and they had no answer to it clearly lacking a flexible plan b and even their passing was totally off on the night. The players gave a better account of themselves in the second half hence winning the game. With Liverpool, up next Chelsea will like to lift their game if they want to stand any chance in front of Klopp’s men.
2. Antonio Rudiger stepped up on a difficult night in the Czech Republic
The German defender showed commitment and desire to outperform his counterparts and hence he fared a lot well than his fellow teammates on the night. Apart from his brilliant defending he also came up with opportunities to find himself in the score-sheet. He is fast strong and his ability to read the game makes his a vital cog in Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea.
If the Blues are looking to secure anything from their next game against Liverpool, they need Rudiger to be at his best. with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino banging in belters for the Reds, Sarri will need his best defender to be on song to resist the onslaught.
1. It is not over yet for Slavia Prague
The team from the Czech Republic has surprised everyone in the football fraternity when they defeated Sevilla in the round of 16. The win was a testament of fact that Jindřich Trpišovský’s team are men full of character and never die spirit. The same thing they showed here against Chelsea as well in the first half. He pressed the Blues high and forced them to make mistakes, though they were not great with their passing which hindered them from creating chances.
However, despite the defeat at home they have all to play for in the reverse leg at the Stamford Bridge. They have shown they can do it once and there is absolutely no reason why they can’t do it again but they need to fine tune their midfield and look closely to improve on their passing.