I was at Stamford Bridge last night to witness a great evening of entertainment. I say entertainment because this was not the result either team was hoping for.
It was all Chelsea from the start. The Blues played well with some good pressing while Ajax were trying quickly to understand how they could stop them. Then Chelsea’s Plan A of quick counter-attacks was not on because when Ajax did not win the ball back quickly, they would drop deep to protect the center-halves Blind and Veltman.
Then the partnership of Jorginho and Kovacic took over and looked great by creating some problems for Van de Beek and Martinez. Especially when Kovacic would dribble through the middle, Chelsea looked dangerous and Ajax had to adjust quickly to avoid getting hurt.
Ajax needed someone to change the game and Ziyech is one of those players who can change the game whenever he wants. As soon he started getting on the ball more you could see the rest of the team getting more confident, and the game shifted with Ajax starting to take control. The key difference was that one striker would hold onto the ball better, like Tadic more than Abraham did in the first half. That helped Ajax control the speed of the game and gave them the comfort they needed.
They also took a lot of risk with their crosses and you could see that the young Chelsea side had no answer to balls being whipped in with pace. The trick is to whip it in hard and if no one touches the ball it can go in because the defender and goalkeeper don’t know for one second who will go for the ball, and before you know it, it’s too late. The next shift in the game came after halftime.
Knowing Frank he wouldn’t have been happy and I’m sure he would have said the game is not over so go out there and start playing, and don’t get bullied In front of your own crowd. Of course the two red cards for Ajax’s most experienced defenders also caused a huge shift in Chelsea’s favour.
I do have to complement Ajax because with 9 men they showed no fear and kept playing their great football by trying to keep the ball in the team, and that was a joy to watch.
But the belief of Chelsea kept on growing and they made it back to 4-4 thanks to Chelsea’s youngest Champions League debutant Reece James. James looked really comfortable and is ready to feature more for Chelsea, and I am sure Frank will be helping him do that if he keeps playing like he did last night.
In a final twist Chelsea almost won the game but the goal got disallowed because VAR called for an Abraham handball. Let me tell you if that goal would’ve stood Stamford Bridge would have gone crazy.
For now it’s tight in Group H, with Chelsea, Ajax and Valencia all tied on 7 points with two games left to play, so everything is still to play for!