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Chelsea players euphoric after their victory over Marseille

Chelsea 2 - Marseille 0 : A world apart

By Matthieu Boisseau

“We can do it”. Unfortunately for him, Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier's prediction was totally wrong. To be more precise, it had been potentially right during the best part of 8 minutes. But results speak for themselves, and the early goal by John Terry quickly dashed any hopes. Gaël Kakuta's low corner ran to John Terry who eluded his marker to steer a first-time shot past Benoît Cheyrou who had failed to cover the near post properly. “l'OM” was unable to recover from the catastrophic start and never succeeded in shaking up Chelsea. Nevertheless, Marseille's defender Souleymane Diawara said that Chelsea could be defeated more easily than usual as they were coming into the match on the back of their first defeat of the season at the hands of City. But obviously his team is not as powerful as the petrodollar and wealthy Citizens' gang.  The 2-0 loss has underlined the cruel fact that, even if Deschamps's robust starting line-up with defenders Kaboré and Heinze, and forwards Brandao and  Gignac was quite impressive, it had lost the physical battle and been technically outclassed by Ancelotti's squad before the match had even begun.

Marseille's laboured playing was no match for Chelsea's quick foot-play
Anelka has tortured Marseille's overtaken defenders


During the first half, each of Chelsea attacks threw Marseille's players into a panic, who were  dramatically overtaken by Malouda and Kakuta's brilliant speed. Ambitious Didier Deschamps wanted his team to take risks, by keeping an offensive style of play and exerting a half-pressing to close Chelsea down as they crossed halfway. But such a strategy could not be sustainable as “l'OM” remained defenceless. Moreover, as the insurmountable wall made up by Essien and Mikel intercepted every Marseille pass, Petr Cech spent a very peaceful evening. In spite of Didier Deschamps's players determination to win the match, all their endeavours failed to weaken Chelsea. This was made even more obvious when Anelka converted the kick provoked by an unintentional handball by Mbia, blocking a cross from tireless Essien. Ambling forward three paces and rolling the ball, almost in slow motion, past the goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who was rooted to the spot, Anelka took his revenge for deafening boos he received from the 2700 Marseille ultras for his leading role in the Knysna's strike. The Paris-born player's intelligence of movement was undoubtedly unsettling to Mbia and Souleymane Diawara, the two great pillars of the Marseille defence. Far from his nonchalant South-African on-the-grass behaviour as one of Domenech's (ex-coach of the French team) players, Anelka showed that he is still one of the best French forwards playing today.

Chelsea scores against Marseille
Chelsea takes the lead thanks to a shot by Terry

The score could have been even more severe since Chelsea hit the woodwork twice during the last 45 minutes, especially on a fantastic 35-yard free-kick from Alex. While Marseille was attacking with fervour if not precision, Ancelotti's team used quick counter-attacks perfectly and maintained a constant pressure on Mandanda's goal, resting on Malouda amazing performance. The former Lyon player constantly found space between the two lines of midfield and attack, and fantastically collaborated in tandem with Ashley Cole down the left. “L'OM”’s better second half, which showed quicker and more incisive offensives, is mainly due to substitutions and the attacking power added by Mathieu Valbuena and André Ayew. But their technical inaccuracies continued, and they did not abandon their excessive and vain use of long passes. By the end of the match, Chelsea had given Marseille a collective football lesson as the London team’s perfect movements contrasted with the laboured French style of play. Belgian referee Franck De Bleeckere ended by calling what was a relatively straightforward win for Chelsea. One could say it is not such a humiliating loss for Marseille as regards to the one-sided unfolding of the match.

Malouda has been named Top Player of the Match

Chelsea is now top of Group F on goal difference from Spartak Moscow and has a full six points. This stage of the competition has definitely been completed routinely in each of the seven seasons that Roman Abramovich has owned the club. On the other side of the spectrum, Marseille, who want to make a qualification for the second stage a priority will have to reconsider their goals. As the match showed, the gap between the champions of England and France is too broad to allow Marseille to aim for reaching the Champions League knockout phase every year.



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