Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and in a fashion that, shall we say, did not overload the watching public on entertainment.
The win over Galatasaray on Tuesday night was an affair that you might euphemistically call "professional", in that it contained little flair, no flourish and little for the neutral to get excited about.
Indeed, the incident that seemed to excite most of the journalists in the press box was when the returning Didier Drogba's free-kick in the first half flew high over the bar and hit a banner in the Chelsea end welcoming his return to Stamford Bridge.
This is not, of course, a criticism of Chelsea. The side visiting from Turkey were desperately poor, offering little in the way of attacking threat and, a few hearty fouls by Felipe Melo aside, barely seemed interested in causing Chelsea any significant problems.
During the game our more experienced players did nothing. For this reason it's difficult for me. We didn't have any players who 'played' this game. We can't play like we did in this performance [and expect to do well]. If we want to play at this level, we need to work more and do more steps [forward].
Mancini blaming his players, his staff or indeed anyone else is a familiar refrain—in the last days of his tenure at Manchester City, he even turned on the club's communications manager, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News, after the FA Cup final loss to Wigan.
One imagines this would have amused Jose Mourinho, who is seemingly not a fan of Mancini, as can be seen through his polite refusal for a postgame dinner with the Italian, as per the Daily Mirror, and, of course, the needle between the two before the first leg, when Mourinho dismissed Mancini's claims of credit for Internazionale's 2010 Champions League win, as per Goal.com.
Not all of the credit for this win should be taken away from Chelsea and simply explained by Galatasaray's poor performance. Samuel Eto'o's early goal knocked the stuffing out of Mancini's side, and this made it an enormously difficult task to come back against the Premier League leaders.
After that, Chelsea were efficient, scoring an "insurance" goal and then doing absolutely no more than was necessary to claim the victory and their place in the next round.
It's a quality that has characterised their play in the league as well, reaching the top of the table without being the most exciting or highest-scoring side, both titles belonging to Liverpool, who have scored 20 more goals than Chelsea despite playing one game less.
For all their attacking talent, with Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian all starting on Tuesday night, it is this efficiency that has proved so effective for Chelsea this term and could still lead them to the Champions League crown.
Mourinho certainly seems to think so, inviting all-comers after the game, as quoted by The Guardian:
We are a Champions League club and now we are among the best eight, the best clubs in the world, and we are there. The players deserve to be there.
All the big teams are there. All the big candidates to win the competition are there. And we would welcome any one of them. It would be very good for our evolution as a team and very important for us to play one of the best. We wait for the draw. It doesn't matter who. They are all welcome.
Fighting talk from Mourinho, and after all, what else would you expect?
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