Before, during and after the Liverpool v Chelsea game I went through a range of emotions. I knew the game would be tough, I knew that Jose Mourinho would have the correct tactics to counter Liverpool, I even knew that their would be some crazy antics by the so called 'Special One', but I wasn't prepared for what happened.
The game was a tactical master piece for Mourinho but only in the sense that Chelsea won the game. This is where result becomes King. Until the Demba Ba goal, Chelsea rarely threatened and sat back, sat deep and wasted time from the off. The tactics employed were long balls to Ba and long throw ins to Matic in the box. The real aim was to stop Liverpool playing the way they do; this aim was successfully achieved and now has made the title race that bit more interesting.
Four across the back and a defensive midfield trio forced Liverpool to the wings and when the crosses were emphatically cleared Liverpool became desperate. This was especially evident in the second half and as the game wore on the tactics and game plan by Chelsea became easier to control too. It worked but to me it wasn't a great ploy and did not look pleasing on the eye. Earlier this season West Ham employed the same tactics and were criticised by many people including Jose Mourinho, with talk of 19th century football.
After last nights result I personally do feel a lot better and I think it was a sign of justice in the end. Football has been the winner this week and the way Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid played showed that there is an art to defending and when done properly it can prove to be a great tool for attacking. The great saying goes however, in that attack is the best form of defence.
After the defeat last night, the 'Special One' or the 'Happy One' is close to go two consecutive seasons without a trophy and this is after spending millions of amazing players but playing a defence game. Mourinho will always be a legend in the game for what he as done with some unfancied teams, however this lack of success is not something he is used too, or Chelsea are used too either. They have had teams in the last few seasons who were a lot worse but still managed to win a trophy most seasons.
Is possession 9/10 of the law? Do stats even mean anything when your team has just lost a close game. Brendan Rodgers last year stated that if you control possession you are more likely to win games; but this season has shown that it is what you do with the ball that is more important. Five yard passes between centre backs do not equate to championship winning football, nor does a long ball to a big striker help either.
All fans are happiest when their team wins and we would all take 38 clean sheets and dogged defending to win every game 1-0. But to play, solely not to lose means that you are inviting pressure and fundamentally that you don't trust your team with the ball. Tika-Taka was the rave a few seasons ago and it is definitely easy on the eye, but a blend of attacking directness and controlled possession is more effective as Bayern Munich showed last season and Real Madrid have this year.
Is there a correct way to play and win; not really. Just win and the fans will stay happy.