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Analysis: How Dinamo Zagreb stunned Chelsea in UEFA Champions League opener

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Chelsea began their UEFA Champions League campaign with a shock defeat at Dinamo Zagreb. The two-time winners dominated possession all through the game but slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Croatian champions, Dinamo Zagreb.

The Blues dominated in the early stages but conceded against the run of play. Mislav Orsic scored the winner in the 13th minute, running through from the halfway line and beautifully dinking a finish past Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his Chelsea debut and had a goal ruled out for offside. He had 20 touches and completed 9 passes but largely looked off pace in the game. He was subbed off after 59 minutes for Armando Broja who had little impact in the game.

Dinamo came close to a second but Stefan Ristovski’s thunderous, long-range effort was superbly tipped onto the bar by Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea’s best chance of the game came in the 86th minute. The ball bounced to Reece James, who hammered it off the post from a tight angle.

Also, Dominik Livakovic saved Mason Mount’s first-time strike and Kai Havertz’s header from six yards out was brilliantly blocked by Robert Ljubicic.

It was Chelsea’s first competitive match against a Croatian side but they fell to a Dinamo Zagreb side that has only won five out of 43 games in the competition.

More Woes for Tuchel’s side on his 100th game

Chelsea’s poor away form this season continued at Zagreb after recent Premier league losses at Southampton and Leeds United.

Chelsea spent a record £272 million during the 2022 summer transfer window for 6 signings but fell to an impressive Dinamo Zagreb side in Thomas Tuchel’s 100th game for Chelsea.

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Tuchel’s side looked incoherent all through the game as they couldn’t beat the Dinamo Zagreb defense.

However, The Blues defense showed no signs of improvement from poor performances all through the season.

In seven games in all competitions this term, the Blues have already lost three times and kept just one clean sheet, which came in the opening EPL match against Everton.

The misunderstanding between the summer signings meant to bolster the defense as well as Thiago Silva’s absence was obvious. Experienced Kalidou Koulibaly partnered UEFA Champions league debutant, Wesley Fofana.

And the lack of understanding between the pair – who cost more than £100m between them – in the early days of their partnership was obvious for the goal when they both went for a high ball, yet neither got to it.

It allowed Bruno Petkovic to flick the ball on for Mislav Orsic, who held off Fofana before advancing on goal and converting a nice finish past Kepa.

Captain, Cesar Azpilcueta wasn’t quite impressive and came off at half time.

In midfield, Mateo Kovacic impressed in the midfield while wingbacks, Reece James and Ben Chilwell tried to launch specific attacking chances.

In attack, Raheem Sterling looked absent before being replaced.

Kai Harvetz and Mason Mount only proved their mettle in the final minutes while debutant Aubameyang had a goal ruled out for offside.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his Chelsea debut and the 33-year-old striker played in a face mask, having been involved in a violent robbery at his home which left him with a broken jaw.

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He had a goal ruled out for offside, had 20 touches and completed 9 passes but largely looked off pace.

Aubameyang was replaced before the hour mark for Armando Broja who had little impact in the game.

Hakim Ziyech impressed in the final minutes after coming on as the Blues pushed for a late equaliser.

Christian Pulisic, Jorginho and Marc Cucurella also came on, in the final minutes.

Chelsea chased an equaliser with time running out, but Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved Mason Mount’s first-time strike and Kai Havertz’s header from six yards out was brilliantly blocked by Robert Ljubicic.

The loss means an end to Chelsea’s impressive away run having only lost only one of the last 11 away UEFA Champions league matches since last season’s 1-0 loss at Juventus.

It was just Chelsea’s second group stage loss in 18 games, while Dinamo Zagreb held on for a famous victory.

Serie A champions AC Milan travel to RB Salzburg in Group E’s other game.

Statistics

  1. This was the first-ever meeting between the two-time European Champions, Chelsea and Croatian giants, Dinamo Zagreb.
  2. Mislav Orsic has netted five goals in his last four games against English teams in European competition (three v Spurs, one v West Ham and Chelsea).

He has scored in each of his last four games in Europe.

  1. Mislav Orsic scored the first Champions League of the 2022/2023 campaign.

Seydou Doumbia, Lionel Messi, Sardar Azmoun, Alvaro Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mislav Orsic – the first Champions League scorer in each of the past six seasons.

The only goal was Dinamo Zagreb’s first Champions League goal under boss Ante Cacic (excluding qualifiers).

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He was in charge for five games in 2012-13 and they lost all five without scoring (0-13 overall score).

  1. Raheem Sterling becomes the fifth player to play in the Champions League for three different English clubs – Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
  2. It was Thomas Tuchel’s 100th match as Chelsea manager and the 50th start for Ben Chilwell at Chelsea.
  3. Chelsea lost two records on the night:

i. Against new opponents in the competition, Chelsea were unbeaten in the last 13 visits- (Win 9 and draw 5). Run started in September 2014— 1-0 win at Sporting Lisbon, Portugal
Last Loss- November 2013, 1-0 loss to Basel in Switzerland.

ii. Chelsea were on an impressive away run having lost only one of the last 11 away UEFA Champions League matches(last season’s 1-0 loss at Juventus)

  1. Chelsea are featuring the UCL for the 19th time moving them level with Arsenal and behind only Manchester United(24) for most participation by an English club. The blues have won the trophy twice(2012, 2018).
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