Defensive Woes Continue

Chelsea’s pre-season tour concluded on a sour note with yet another defeat due to defensive errors.

The match started well enough, with almost a full strength line-up missing only Drogba and Cech from the starting XI, although the former was on the bench.

Chelsea kicked off the first half and within a few minutes Lampard had a shot on goal that the Hamburg keeper, Rost, managed to clear to safety. Hamburg hit back almost immediately with Petric testing Turnbull who saved well.

Lampard and Kalou both had opportunities to open the scoring yet it was the 23rd minute before a goal finally came, however it wasn’t born of the fruits of nice approach play.

Michael Essien closed down the Hamburg defence and robbed Pitroipa of the ball, driving into the area. Just as many expected him to pull the trigger, he squared the ball to Lampard who slotted home his second goal of pre-season to make it 1-0.

The rest of the half played out with Chelsea largely dominating, and looking strong in all areas of the park with Ashley Cole, Essien and the goalscorer; Lampard, looking especially sharp. Terry picked up a booking as the half drew to a close for a late challenge, and the ref called proceedings to a halt.

The half time period saw only one change by Chelsea, with Didier Drogba getting his first taste of match action, replacing fellow Ivorian Salomon Kalou. It wasn’t long before Didier, understandably rusty, to get involved in the action.

It was Anelka however who got the half’s early opportunities, forcing a save from Rost and then scoring what looked to be a legitimate goal, only for it to be struck off by the increasingly petty referee, for an alleged handball.

Chelsea then made a raft of changes, Ivanovic leaving the pitch after a knock to the head, to be replaced by Carvalho, and soon after Zhirkov and Benayoun replaced Cole and Lampard respectively.

The loss of Lampard made a clear difference to the midfield, with possession squandered easily and gaps appearing in front of the back four, allowing Hamburg more and more attacking options, with Chelsea having less and less in reply.

Ancelotti introduced Bruma and Kakuta in place of Ferreira and Anelka, yet sadly the changes had little time to take effect before Hamburg equalised, and it was yet another error that cost the goal.

Yuri Zhirkov attempted a back pass to Ross Turbull, but with the pass lofted high and with not enough momentum, Petric was able to get to it before the onrushing Turnbull, to poke it home and make it 1-1.

Chelsea tried to press in order to find another goal, yet in commiting people forwards left the defence exposed even more. With Mikel fading, Kakuta unable to get on the ball, and Drogba coming deep in order to get the ball, Chelsea’s shape disintegrated.

It wasn’t long before Hamburg scored again, and with only four minutes left on the clock, a ball that should have been cleared by either Terry or Carvalho was missed by both of them, as Son took full advantage to steal the ball and slot past Turnbull to make it 2-1.

There was little chance of an equaliser as Chelsea’s approach play was lethargic and easily snuffed out by Hamburg, whose superior fitness level showed late on, having played two more pre-season matches than Chelsea.

The ref brought the match to a close after a couple of minutes injury time, and called an end to what has been a pretty miserable pre-season tour, certainly one of the worst results wise in a very long time.

Carlo was typically honest after the match, stating; ‘We are making a lot of mistakes in this moment. We know we made a mistake, now we have to show more character and more concentration. Physically it was not so bad.’

He continued; ‘There are some players in good condition; there are some players who need more time to be fit. After eight days of training it is impossible to be fit. This is not a good start for us but we hope the next game against Manchester United we will come back to win.’

Chelsea (4-3-3): Turnbull; Ferreira (Bruma 67), Ivanovic (Carvalho 53), Terry (c), Cole (Zhirkov 61); Essien, Mikel, Lampard (Benayoun 61); Kalou (Drogba H-T), Anelka (Kakuta 67), Malouda.

Attendance: 47,440