With the Group Stage of the World Cup moving right along and a few teams already having qualified for the next round or been eliminated, now seems as good a time as any to do a full review of how Chelsea’s stars have performed thus far on football’s biggest stage. With 17 players (we’re excluding David Luiz now) involved in the tournament, Chelsea has had about as big an impact on the action as any club around the world. Here’s a team-by-team look at that impact so far.
All things considered, Brazil has been somewhat underwhelming thus far. They started slowly (and benefiting from a phantom penalty) against Croatia in the opener and drew 0-0 against Mexico despite Oscar’s pre-match assurance that the host nation knew how to beat the Mexicans. We wrote in a previously about Chelsea’s Brazil players being stifled against Mexico.
Really, it was David Luiz—no longer a Chelsea star following his monster PSG deal—who had the only strong performance in this match. Still, following a goal against Croatia and with Brazil looking for offense, Oscar should figure prominently from here forward, and Chelsea teammates Ramires and Willian are both seeing time on the field.
Well, it’s official: Spain was a shocking failure at this World Cup. Pegged by many as the likeliest European team to snag a Cup title on South American soil, Spain remained the class of international football heading into the 2014 tournament and had so much backing them: they were the defending champion; they were one of the most experienced and talented teams; and even Intercasino’s promotion allowing players to pick a team to back during the World Cup went as far as to use Spain as its illustration. Not only that, but in a similar vein, betting agencies all over the world had Spain as one of the favourites.
And yet, Chile abruptly ended Spain’s run at the World Cup in a fairly routine 2-0 win on Wednesday. This means the end of the road for three Chelsea standouts: Cesar Azpilicueta, who played 90 minutes in both games for a defence that was altogether shredded to pieces; Fernando Torres, who played 30 minutes off the bench in both games to little effect, and whose World Cup career is likely over; and Cesc Fabregas, who somewhat-bafflingly played only 12 total minutes despite a struggling offence.
With Brazil struggling and Spain out, Belgium may be the best hope for Chelsea stars to make a deep World Cup run (though Brazil may yet pull it together and act its part as the favourite). In Belgium’s 2-1 win over Algeria—in which it took a while to get going but looked dominant for the final 25 or 30 minutes—Eden Hazard was wonderful attacking out of the midfield, scoring an assist and looking like the best player on the field. Romelu Lukaku could have done more to help and was replaced by Divock Origi 58 minutes in. Chelsea keeper of the future, Thibaut Courtois, was relatively solid, even if he was somewhat inactive for the most part. Algeria’s only goal was on a penalty kick.
Rightfully, match reports like the fairly thorough one posted in the Daily Mail, gave credit to Belgium’s subs for securing the win. But if this team makes a deep run, the major reason for that is the trio ofCourtois, Hazard and Lukaku.
Nigeria may have played in the single dullest match of this World Cup thus far, as it was a listless 0-0 draw with Iran. This is opposed to the absolutely thrilling 0-0 draw between Mexico and Brazil. Because the match was so generally uneventful, Chelsea contributors John Obi Mikel (90 minutes vs. Iran), Victor Moses (52 minutes after starting), and Kenneth Omeruo (90 minutes) haven’t accomplished too much thus far. Although, Omeruo’s performance in back was quite strong and bodes well for the 20-year-old’s future in Chelsea’s defense.
Chelsea’s only player with a German team that suddenly looks like a genuine World Cup favorite is Andre Schurrle, who was active for 30 minutes off the bench in the team’s 4-0 opening drubbing of Portugal. This is a German roster crowded with talent, so it’s tricky to say if and when Schurrle will see more time . However, with Germany likely to go deep into this tournament, it stands to reason he’ll get more minutes at some point.
Renowned striker and Chelsea standout Samuel Eto’o is the club’s only player for Cameroon, which so far lost 1-2 to Mexico and 0-4 to Croatia. Eto’o hit the crossbar once in a strong effort in the Mexico match, but he missed the Croatia match and will miss the rest of the Cup due to a knee injury.
Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill represent Chelsea for England and in the team’s tough 1-2 loss to Italy in the opener, neither made headlines. Lampard didn’t play, though he remains a strong candidate as an offensive replacement against Uruguay or Costa Rica in the remaining Group Stage matches. Meanwhile, Cahill started and played 90 minutes, but he failed to distinguish himself. However, he did avoid any particular personal disasters against Italy’s tricky offensive weapons. This group is back in action Thursday against Uruguay in what’s essentially a must-win contest.
Christian Atsu (Ghana’s lone Chelsea player) torched the USA in Ghana’s 1-2 loss, repeatedly threatening to score and making DaMarcus Beasley looking like a rag doll. Ghana lost, but if they compete well against Portugal and Germany, Atsu could emerge from this World Cup as a household name.