And then there was one. Three more Chelsea players exit the World Cup, leaving just Andre Schurrle, following Brazil’s shock exit at the hands of Germany. As the host nation licks its wounds from the 7-1 defeat – the biggest and most humiliating semi-final loss in the tournament’s history – Blues fans will be wondering whether it could have been avoided if Big Phil Scolari had trusted his Chelsea players a bit more.
There was a great deal of speculation before the game about how Brazil would compensate for the loss of Neymar. Oscar, it was assumed would move into the number 10 role; Willian might be brought into the team in Oscar’s position wide on the right; and Ramires might be brought in to toughen up the midfield.
In the event, only Oscar started. And he could do very little as the Brazilian defence crumbled in a crazy 18-minute spell which saw them ripped apart with almost cruel ease by the German attack. Missing their captain Thiago Silva, it was left to David Luiz to marshal the back four – and he was having one of those days that Chelsea fans can all too easily remember, only worse, much worse.
By the time Ramires was brought on at half-time for the ineffective Hulk, Brazil was 5-0 down and the game was over. Ramires, in an attacking role, played quite well, with some neat little moves and passes. He also brought Oscar – who looked and played for most of the first 45 minutes as if he was simply shell-shocked by the onslaught – into the game, and prompted some of Brazil’s better moves.
Willian, too, came off the bench in place of Fred, with 20 minutes left and the deficit now up to 6. He gave a typical Willian performance, creating more chances in his short allotted time than any of his team-mates managed in the whole game. His appearance on the pitch meant Oscar was pushed further up as a lone striker, and from that position, Oscar scored a consolation goal which suggested Brazil might have been better off playing him upfront than the hapless Fred.
Would Brazil have done better relying on the Chelsea connection? They could hardly have done much worse. Perhaps Ramires could have played the defensive midfield role in place of the wretched Fernandino, who was directly responsible for at least two of Germany’s goals and spent much of the rest of his time on the pitch running round ineffectually while the game passed him by.
As for David Luiz – well, I’m a fan of the mop-haired muppet. He’s a much- needed character and on his day, he is tremendous. But this wasn’t his day. Although it would be harsh to say he had a crucial role in the first four goals, he was supposed to be organising the defence in Silva’s absence. Suffice it to say that the organisation ranged from sketchy to non-existent. The deal to sell him to PSG was looking better and better with each German goal.
And so Blues hopes now rest on Schurrle, who made the most of his appearance as a substitute with two well-taken goals, ensuring that Chelsea finished the game level with Bayern Munich with three goals each out of the eight. Him scoring the winner in the final after coming off the bench must be worth a cheeky bet.