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Winners & Losers

Mind over money: Chelsea winners, losers and ratings as Dinamo Zagreb shock wealthy Blues

8:35 PM WAT 06/09/2022
Chelsea Dinamo Zagreb Raheem Sterling 2022-23
Thomas Tuchel's men lost 1-0 on Tuesday to start their Champions League campaign.

Chelsea spent about £272 million in the summer transfer market, including a reported fee of £75 million for centre-back Wesley Fofana. Dinamo Zagreb's biggest splurge was £4m on forward Bosko Sutalo. They are both in the Champions League, but by almost every other identifier, they live in different stratospheres.

It was a dreadful performance from the Blues, who were completely stifled by the underdog Croatian club. In a match that served as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's debut, the Blues attack was toothless while the defence was undone by one moment of magic - a deft dink from Mislav Orsic beyond goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea's Champions League campaign is off to the worst possible start, putting further pressure on a team that has already lost twice in the Premier League and barely scraped a win against West Ham last weekend.

  • Orsic Zagreb Chelsea 2022-23

    The Winners

    Mislav Orsic:

    Unless you're a fan of the Croatian league or a die-hard FIFA Ultimate Team fanatic, you might not be super familiar with Orsic.

    But Orsic always seems to pop up in European play. He score a hat-trick against Atalanta in 2019, and then another against Tottenham in 2021 to knock them out of the Europa League. And then there was the goal against West Ham last December that knocked the Londoners out of the Europa League.

    The point is, Orsic is a goal-getter. He's fast, direct and, when the time comes, clinical. Chelsea lost track of him for one moment, and he made no mistake.

    AC Milan:

    From the moment the group was announced, there were two favourites: Chelsea and AC Milan. And, with the Blues' loss, the advantage is now with the Italians when it comes to seizing control of the group.

    We have a long way to go, and AC Milan may have their own stumbles. Maybe Dinamo can push on and challenge for an advancement position. Maybe RB Salzburg's youngsters are further along than many think, allowing them to push on.

    But, in all likelihood, this group will prove to be a two-horse race.

    Despite this loss, Chelsea should be fine in terms of reaching the knockout rounds. They're too talented not to be. But the ball is now in AC Milan's court when it comes to topping the group.

    Matteo Kovacic:

    If there was one Chelsea player that could hold his head somewhat high, it was Kovacic.

    He was introduced to a bit of applause in his home country and, by the end, he was essentially the only Chelsea player worthy of it. Playing in a midfield two with Mason Mount, he was the only Chelsea player that did much of anything in a lifeless first half.

    Kovacic wasn't perfect by any means, but he was solid enough, showing once again how vital he is to this Chelsea team despite all of the flashy new signings.

  • Chelsea FT react Dinamo 2022-23

    The Losers

    Kalidou Koulibaly:

    The former Napoli defender has now had about a month's worth of games at Chelsea, and at no time has he looked like the towering presence that lorded over Serie A for so long.

    Koulibaly was at least partially at fault for the opener, with the Senegalese and Wesley Fofana both involved. That, most likely, is a result of playing alongside a new team-mate, with the two certainly needing time to adjust to each other's tendencies.

    If it were in a vacuum, you could excuse that goal. Yet Koulibaly hasn't quite looked himself since coming to Chelsea, with this goal only the latest example.

    Is it just new club jitters? Does he need more time to adjust to his new surroundings after so long in Napoli? Or should Chelsea be more concerned?

    Time will tell, but they'll need Koulibaly at his best going forward if they're to compete at the top level.

    Chelsea's attack:

    It's almost like they were playing FIFA without a shoot button.

    Each and every time Chelsea got into a dangerous situation, things got too cute. Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the trio of starters, were either too selfish or not selfish enough, as virtually every promising attack ended with a Dinamo tackle and clearance.

    It isn't just the fact that Chelsea were shut out by Zagreb, but rather how they were. Eight total shots, two on target, and very little to care about other than that.

    Romelu Lukaku is gone. So too is Timo Werner. The club has brought in stars like Sterling and Aubameyang to breathe new life into an attack that hadn't been good enough.

    Things have yet to get better, though.

    Thomas Tuchel:

    Managers often get too much blame and too much credit. Players win games, after all. A manager's job is just to set them up to do so.

    But Tuchel must take some criticism for what we've seen from Chelsea.

    Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but a double-pivot of Mount and Kovacic was never going to work. Returning to a five-at-the-back system, Chelsea looked frail defensively and clueless in the attack against a Dinamo team they should have steamrolled.

    Part of that is down to the players, of course, who weren't sharp or decisive enough. But blame also has to fall to the manager who continues to see his team struggle with basics.

    Despite the millions of dollars spent to bring in players, Tuchel's Chelsea look like a poor imitation of what they could and should be.

  • Kalidou Koulibaly Chelsea Dinamo 2022-23

    Chelsea Ratings: Defence

    Kepa Arrizabalaga (6/10):

    Got dinked on the goal, but made up for it with a spectacular save later on.

    Ben Chilwell (6/10):

    A solid enough performance from the defender, even if he was offside on Aubameyang's would-be goal. He's making a case he belongs in the starting XI.

    Kalidou Koulibaly (5/10):

    Still far from his best.

    Wesley Fofana (5/10):

    Was outpaced on the goal.

    Cesar Azpilicueta (6/10):

    Hooked at half-time as Chelsea needed something new, but no fault of his.

    Reece James (7/10):

    Chelsea's Mr. Reliable struck the post in the second half and was generally positive both ways.

  • Matteo Kovacic Chelsea Dinamo 2022-23

    Midfield

    Matteo Kovacic (7/10):

    Solid performance in the midst of a Chelsea mess.

    Mason Mount (4/10):

    Not a No. 6, but was played as one.

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    Attack

    Raheem Sterling (5/10):

    Seventy-five minutes of nothing from Chelsea's big-money man.

    Kai Havertz (6/10):

    More energy than those around him, but not decisive enough.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (5/10):

    Offside a whole bunch and crowded out. A disappointing debut.

  • Thomas Tuchel Chelsea Dinamo 2022-23

    Subs & Manager

    Hakim Ziyech (4/10):

    Came on for Azpilicueta, but did nothing positive. Two awful free kicks late on.

    Jorginho (6/10):

    Came on for Kovacic. Moved the ball, but not much creativity. He's still far from his best.

    Armando Broja (6/10):

    Replaced Aubameyang and looked energetic. An improvement on his weekend display vs West Ham.

    Marc Cucurella (N/A):

    Uneventful final 20 minutes.

    Christian Pulisic (N/A):

    Only introduced for the final few minutes.

    Thomas Tuchel (3/10):

    Poor game plan and man management for a poor game.