Thursday, April 03, 2008

Chelsea bitten 2-1 by Fenerbahce

In one of those classic Istanbul surprises (think Galatasaray defeating all placed in front of them when they won the UEFA Cup a few years back, or Liverpool's escape from 3-nil down vs. AC Milan to win the Champions League), the bumblebee-clad Fenerbahce side take a 2-1 lead to Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. That's not a gap to far for a Chelsea side that features Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, but having lost the Carling Cup final to Spurs some doubts may start to creep in about Avram Grant's ability to lead Chelsea to the kind of glory they became so accustomed to during Jose Mourinho's reign. The character of this Chelsea side is changing -- gone are the days when Frank Lampard and Drogba were the first names on the team sheet. German Michael Ballack is slowly making the team his own, and the influence of Mourinho's fellow Portuguese Ricardo Carvalho seems to be waning as well. In many ways, Chelsea are becoming a time, like AC Milan the last 5 years, a team to be feared more in Europe than in their domestic league ... and that might just be how owner Roman Abramovich wants it!