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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
They say that fortune favours the brave, but apparently the deal isn't exclusive. On a miserable night in Southern France, the fates took a shine to a substandard, disappointing Chelsea side who should have seen their Champions League hopes laid to waste, but somehow survived to snatch a vital 1-1 draw.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's side were comprehensively outplayed for much of the match by a renewed Bordeaux who had a point to prove after their 4-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge. Laurent Blanc ordered his players to get stuck in and they never gave Chelsea a moment's peace, harrying and rushing them throughout. Petr Cech was the only Blues player to have earned his cup of tea at half-time and if the rest of the team had had any sense, they would have stayed on the pitch, as far away from the furious Scolari as possible.

Chelsea were slow to shut their opponent's down, reckless with possession and when they scored against the run of play on the hour mark, it was their first shot of the game. Nicolas Anelka latched on to an excellent first time Frank Lampard throughball, dummied twice and slipped the ball home, but it was the only moment of joy for the thousands of Chelsea fans who had travelled down.

Yoann Gourcouff, on loan at the French title challengers from AC Milan, put in the kind of performance that will have Carlo Ancelotti wondering why he sent him away. The young midfielder has a wonderful first touch, a lively burst of pace and he should have opened the scoring in the first half when he pirouetted around John Obi Mikel and slammed a shot in on goal. If AC Milan don't want him, there are teams in the Premier League who will on the basis of this display.

Bordeaux got the equaliser their efforts deserved with just eight minutes left when former Liverpool reserve Alou Diarra was left unmarked at a corner and powered home a fine header. It could have been worse. Lampard was dismissed for a second bookable offence shortly afterwards, Fernando Cavenaghi blasted wide and another set-piece caused all sorts of problems in injury time.

A draw means that victory over FC Cluj at Stamford Bridge will seal qualification, but Scolari will not be amused at the way his team have let their foot slip off the accelerator in recent weeks. A torrid draw at home to Newcastle could have been excused as a freak result, but this indicates a deeper problem. After the splendid, free-flowing football of the opening weeks, it seems that rival coaches are beginning to figure out how to neutralise their genius. Joe Kinnear did it by dropping his wingers back as outer full-backs. Blanc packed the midfield and applied the pressure at the source of the problem, shutting down the quick one touch build-up play.

Scolari is discovering the difference between international football and the domestic game. Familiarity breeds contempt. With more opportunity for opponents to watch and learn, there is more of a need for tactical versatility. The Brazilian boss has an awful lot to think about before the visit of Arsenal on Sunday night.


Crowd: 34,307
Yellow cards: Gourcouff, Jurietti, Chamakh, (Bordeaux) Terry, Lampard, Cole A, Cole J (Chelsea)
Red cards: Lampard (Chelsea)
Mathieu Valverde 6, Alou Diarra 7, Fernando 7, Franck Jurietti 7, Yoan Gouffran 7 (Fernando Cavenaghi 6, 66th), Yoann Gourcuff 8, Souleymane Diawara 7, Wendel 6 (Gabriel Obertan 6, 75th), Mattheiu Chalme 7, Marc Planus 7, Marouane Chamakh 6
Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda, Joe Cole (Paulo Ferreira 6, 85th), Nicolas Anelka (Didier Drogba 6, 60th)