By JOE KRISHNAN
CHELSEA head coach Graham Potter will be facing more questions about his future after watching his side miss several chances to score in their 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last-16 first leg. The Blues came away from Germany empty-handed, despite spending most of the game on top, and face an uphill task ahead of the return fixture.
After blanking against Liverpool and Fulham and a disappointing 1-1 draw with West Ham last time out, Potter would have welcomed the chance to concentrate on the Champions League as they faced their Bundesliga opponents for the first time in history.
But his side succumbed to another defeat thanks to Karim Adeyemi’s solo strike in the 64th minute, with Dortmund buyoed by the deafening Yelllow Wall. Chelsea have now lost eight games from their last 15 under Potter’s management, despite a £323million investment in January which saw three new attackers brought in. And their failure to score once again will give Potter more questions to answer.
Before the game, Rio Ferdinand lauded the Portuguese forward and compared him to a certain German composer for his artistic ability, adding some much-needed flair to the Chelsea frontline. “This kid… he’s like Mozart with the ball. He’s got it all,” the former Manchester United man said.
And if that seemed to be somewhat exaggerated given Felix has only featured twice for his temporary club, Felix set out to prove him right. Playing in behind Kai Havertz in the No 10 role, the 23-year-old was at the heart of everything Chelsea created going forward.
It wasn’t long before he had his first opportunity to open his European account for Chelsea, sweeping over from 15 yards out and that looked like a matter of inches. But when the second opportunity arrived, only Felix will know how he didn’t find the back of the net.
Some good work from Havertz saw him lay the ball off to Felix, who got half a yard on Nico Schlotterbeck and dinked it over Kobel, but the ball clipped the bar and bounced back out. Whether it was luck or poor finishing, Felix will not need telling he should have scored at least one of those chances – although his generally bright performance will give him some more encouragement to solve his issues in front of goal.
After two extremely promising performances for the £107m midfielder against Fulham and West Ham, it was inevitable that the 22-year-old would see his level drop at one point.
The Argentinian was far from his usual composed self and looked fired up by occasion inside the bubbling 80,000 capacity arena. Some of his passes were rushed and his tackles mistimed as Chelsea struggled to control the game in the first half. Things improved in the second half as Fernandez got on the ball, but his defensive ability let him – and his team – down to gift Dortmund the all-important goal.
Some would argue that Potter’s organisation of his team was poor, leaving only one man back at the corner against a player of Adeyemi’s pace as he raced forward 50 yards one-on-one. Still, the record signing was careless in diving in for the challenge and he could only watch on in despair as the German winger rounded Kepa Arrizabalaga.
This will go down as a lesson for the youngster, who is still getting to grips with his team-mates. But there is no doubt he will improve as the season goes on – and will be a crucial player in the second leg.
Source: Express Newspapers