Heartbreak for Chelsea as Bayern win on penalties, but many positives for Mourinho to take from that game..
The European Super Cup final normally isn't given too much importance as far as 'major trophies' go but the won between Chelsea and Bayern Munich had more riding on it than others. It was a game between the Europa League winners and the Champions League winners and Bayern had a score to settle from their 2012 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.
In addition, there was another rivalry rekindled; Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, the ballboy and the translator. There was no love lost between the two managers before the game as Jose Mourinho's pre match press conference reminded us of the El Clasico's few years back. Mourinho had a ireful reply when asked about his record against Guardiola and reminded everyone that the game was not about them but about the two clubs.
There was a stark contrast in the two managers' approach and expectations for the game. For Mourinho it was a chance to see how his transitional side can perform against the best club in Europe whereas for Guardiola it was a chance to prove that Bayern are still the most dominant force. The two teams entered the game with similar results from their respective leagues and both sitting on top of their leagues as well.
Mourinho made a couple of changes to his Chelsea side with Kevin De Bruyne being replaced by Fernando Torres whereas David Luiz finally made his return from injury in place of captain John Terry. For Bayern though it was a predictable line-up with the only element of surprise being Phillip Lahm's role in central midfield despite the availibility of Javi Martinez.
Chelsea's player of the year, Juan Mata started on the substitutes bench yet again with Mourinho opting for more width in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Guardiola employed a 4-1-4-1 formation with Lahm as the holding midfielder.
As expected Bayern Munich dominated possession and territory but it was Chelsea who took the lead early on. Eden Hazard eased past the Bayern midfield finding Andre Schurrle who laid a first time ball to Torres whose finish was equally brilliant. The Spaniard's position has been put under threat with the addition of Samuel Eto'o but goals like that will certainly keep him in the starting XI.
Eden Hazard was outstanding for Chelsea
The goal clearly showed why Mourinho was praised by Guardiola for his counter-attacking tactics. The Chelsea trio of Hazard, Torres and Schurrle covered 80 meters in 13 seconds before finishing off the move.
Bayern's main threat was from the wings especially through Franck Ribery. The Frenchman easily got the better of Branislav Ivanovic but his final effort never really threatened Petr Cech barring one. The Chelsea goalkeeper made an outstanding low save to deny the newly crowned European Player of the Year.
Chances were hard to come by for Mourinho's men but the Blues made the most of their possession with Schurrle and Torres combining well. The Spaniard came close to double Chelsea's lead but his shot went over the crossbar.
Mourinho certainly got the better of Guardiola in the first half but the Spaniard was quick to respond. Bayern's central midfield duo of Lahm and Kroos hardly got involved in the game with 35-year old Frank Lampard putting in an outstanding display alongside Ramires. Pep brought Martinez in, shifting Lahm to his favourable full-back role. The change worked brilliantly for Guardiola whose side now dictated the tempo.
Despite Chelsea's quick counter-attacking movements, Bayern's quality at times was just too much to handle for the London club. Ribery's thunderbolt right at the start of the second half put the Bavarians level. After that it was all Bayern. From quick, direct football under Jupp Heynckes, Bayern's 476 passes after 90 minutes was a clear indication of how Guardiola had changed the entire set-up.
Chelsea though had a chance of their own late on. Lampard's corner was flicked on by Luiz to Ivanovic but the Serbian was unlucky to hit the crossbar. Things became worse for Chelsea as they went down to 10 men with Ramires being sent off for a clumsy tackle on Mario Gotze. The task now looked impossible now for Mourinho and co.
With the first half of extra-time barely under way, Chelsea took the lead once again thanks to Hazard. The Belgian cut in from the wings and fired a powerful shot past Neuer who will feel he could have done better. Great things are expected from Hazard who seems to be Mourinho's man for the big occasion and performances like these will only take him forward.
Mourinho can be proud from his side's performance
With the lead intact after the first 15 minutes, Mourinho took a more defensive approach to the game shifting Mikel, Oscar and Lampard in a more three man midfield with Torres also coming off for Romelu Lukaku. Bayern dominated but were denied by an outstanding Cech on numerous occasions.
The Czech Republic goalkeeper was outstanding throughout the game making some key saves in extra-time to deny Boateng, Mandzukic and Martinez. But Chelsea's gallant display finally fell short with just seconds remaining. Substitute Martinez found the net in added time of extra-time.
The penalties were top notch with both teams scoring easily until 20-year old Romelu Lukaku stepped up to take the final penalty for Chelsea. Compared to Didier Drogba on numerous occassions, the Belgian lacked the experience of the Ivorian as his weak penalty was easily saved by Neuer.
Bayern were the winners on the night. From conceding a goal with seconds remaining to going down to 10 men and having a young 20-year old missing the last penalty, it turned out to be a cruel night for Chelsea. Mourinho failed to get one over Guardiola but it was a performance the Portuguese coach could be very proud of.
Mourinho is a manger who builds his teams from the back, the prime example being his first stint with Chelsea and it seems like this side are going in the same direction as well. Even though Ivanovic had a fairly average game, the trio of Luiz, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole were outstanding throughout. Luiz who was making his first appearance this season was excellent going forward and solid at the back. Chelsea's defense was tight, narrow and organized, something Mourinho's predecessors failed to achieve.
Despite not having the luxury Guardiola had at his disposal, Chelsea's central midfield was outstanding. At 35, Lampard has now played all of Chelsea's four games without missing a minute and it seemed fatigue was hardly an issue for the midfielder. More importantly it was Hazard's display that Mourinho must be really proud of. The Belgian who promised big things this season is starting to live upto his talent. The former Lille attacker was a constant nuisance to the Bayern defense, troubling the likes of Dante and David Alaba regularly.
Unlike last season's Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, Chelsea seemed to have worked on their major problems. The Mourinho impact is clearly visible and even though the fancy football is not there yet, he now knows that his side is capable of matching any in Europe this season.
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