Chelsea produced an exasperatingly dire performance, as Juventus’ three goals means any chance of the European Champions defending their title will be out of their own hands.
For a match which had a lot riding on it, it was a desperately disappointing show. The skill of Mata, Oscar and Hazard were present, but without the authoritative nature of John Terry or Frank Lampard, soft goals conceded were enough to shoot Chelsea’s confidence into smithereens, and the rebuilding work must start soon.
Quagliarella’s first-half deflection set Juventus on their way, and though Chelsea had their chances, none were converted, before a second goal by Vidal left Chelsea staring at defeat.
In truth, defeat happened long before a ball had even been kicked, with an experimental line-up and growing dressing room discontent. Fernando Torres won’t have taken his banishment to the bench very lightly, and with Sturridge absent, Chelsea were crying out for a striker. With no other recognisable first-team striker, Eden Hazard filled in the role of a ‘false number nine’, played to great effect by Spain at the European Championships over the summer.
The problem is, however hard Chelsea try to emulate Spain on the forwards front, a shaky combination of Cahill and Luiz hardly prove to be water-tight. Even the 5-3-2 formation favoured by Di Matteo for the evening was in vain, with Azpilicueta and Cole the wing-backs, but neither attacked, nor defended, particularly well.
In truth, Chelsea had their time. More composure and eradicating the wall that was Buffon might have resulted in a few goals. But whilst Cech, captain for the night, was leading the way with fine stops, it was only a matter of time before he was beaten. Lichtensteiner, Marchisio and Pirlo all went close, but it was Quagliarella in the right place at the right time to divert home a shot past the wrong-footed Cech.
How would Chelsea react? A goal-line clearance by Ashley Cole, who was making his 100th European appearance, seemed to have ignited some belief, with Hazard going close.
The Belgian was causing problems, but playing out of position, he appeared often lost, whilst the Juventus duo were quite content marking air.
But as quickly as the desire to win arrived, so too did it vanish. Asamoah found Vidal in acres of space, but it still needed a flick of Ramires’ heel to evade Petr Cech.
Chelsea had survived a penalty scare moments earlier, but Gary Cahill did seem to do enough to beat his man, with referee Cakir waving play on.
The last time Chelsea refereed under the Turkish official, they were again 2-0 down. But whilst the heroics of Barcelona still live long in the memory for fans, it appears the players had lost the inner pride of wearing a Chelsea shirt.
Victor Moses and Fernando Torres were thrown on, in a last-ditch attempt to salvage something from nothing.
But it was Vucinic who continued to ask the questions, prodding high and wide after losing David Luiz on the centre spot.
It was becoming unbearable to a humiliating extent. Luiz’s desire to venture forwards saw a shot reach Row Z.
In theory, it should have been Juventus sitting back and being content with a 2-0 advantage, but in mind, it was Chelsea sitting back, for damage limitation.
But they would be penetrated the once more, when Giovinco escaped the offside trap and punted home after Cech rushed 25 yards off his line.
And so who does the blame fall upon? Unfortunate injuries? Mismanagement? The inquest will begin.