Exeter City striker and Pundit Arena columnist Graham Cummins discusses how on a night when Chelsea were supposed to show that English sides are a force to be reckoned with in Europe, Paris St. Germain showed just how it is done.
After the first leg result Chelsea seemed like the Premier League’s best hope of qualifying for the quarter-final of the Champions League but they were outclassed in their own backyard by a side that had ten men for 90 minutes.
Depending on some sort of miracle by either Arsenal or Manchester City, there will be no English side in the last eight of the greatest club competition in Europe. Surely this will not be the case. I keep hearing about how the Premier League is the greatest league in the world, but if it is, why are teams performing so badly in Europe?
Is it the fact that players in the league are not good enough, or that the managers are not up to the level required? There is no doubting that Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world but he was outclassed by Laurent Blanc last night. Blanc apparently is a man at risk of losing is job; if this is the case then Manchester United may be asking the Frenchman his intentions if he was to leave PSG.
There were many negatives about Chelsea’s performance last night. They can have no arguments that PSG deserved to go through, not just on last night’s result but over the two legs. Mourinho commented in his pre-match interview about how PSG were the dirtiest team they had played this year.
Chelsea spent too much time trying to play the referee rather than play the game. It looked as if their game-plan had worked when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off for a foul on Oscar. It was never a red card but the effort the entire Chelsea team made to make sure they influenced the referee’s decision was embarrassing. Chelsea players sprinted the length of the pitch to have their say, it’s just a shame they didn’t put that much effort into the rest of the match.
After games like last night, it would make one question just how many world class players are in that Chelsea side, a team that are top of, supposedly, the best league in the world. Based on last night’s evidence I would say two – Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard. I don’t believe that there are only two world class players in the Chelsea side but certainly some of their players have taken their foot off the gas.
Diego Costa has been one of the best players in the league this season but did he think he was in a fight or a football match last night? I love his aggression and his ability to get into defenders faces but there comes a point when you actually have to play football.
Besides one incident, in which Costa should have earned his side a penalty, he was more interested in fighting with former Chelsea man, David Luiz. Luiz was the perfect Panto villain last night. He won his battle with Costa, after every tussle the two encountered Luis walked away with a smile on his face while Costa was left snarling.
It had to be Luiz who scored the equaliser. I know Chelsea received incredible money for the Brazilian but they should have never let him go. If Chelsea want to be the best, then they have got to keep their best players. I know many will disagree with me but I believe Luis is a better player than both John Terry and Gary Cahill.
Are we getting carried away with how good the Premier League is supposed to be? People say it is the most competitive and that only one or two teams can win the other major leagues around Europe. Yes it brings entertainment but in reality the teams are just not good enough to compete in Europe.
Look at the Europa League, the level of performances from English clubs in the competition is not good enough and they get away with it by using the excuse that the competition is a distraction form the league. What ever happened to the saying ‘you’re in it to win it’.
It will certainly be an interesting summer in English football. Will we see the departure of more big names because they want to go to clubs who are capable of winning the Champions League. Another season like this in European competitions and clubs in England will find it difficult to attract and keep hold of their best players.
Graham Cummins, Pundit Arena