Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Modric: The Missing Piece in Chelsea's Champions League Jigsaw?

For an expereince Chelsea side with an inexperienced manager at the helm, the Champions League remains top priority. In the Premiership, Drogba, Terry, Lampard and co have tasted success. But their hunger for European glory grows as their careers wind down. Terry in particular must surely be haunted by his penalty miss in the 2008 final's shootout against Manchester United.

There is a real sense now that it will be difficult for any club to challenge Barcelona's European dominance, but we should not forget that in 2009, Chelsea were seconds from beating them. If their power has always troubled Barca, it has been a lack of guile that has left them short against Inter in 2010, United in 2011, even as far back as Liverpool in 2005 and 2007.

Since the days of Mourinho, Chelsea have never operated with a central orchestrator- someone like Deco in Mourinho's Porto, or Sneijder in his Inter Milan. Lampard has played for years in a similar position, but in a very different style. While his consistent performances and impressive goalscoring feats have proven invaluable to Chelsea over the years, he has never looked like conjuring a creative piece of magic in a tight European game. And his central role in the team has left no room for a playmaker to flourish.

Lampard is now 33 and ought to be moving towards the end of a fine career. He showed signs of decline last season and these facts suggest that Chelsea's pursuit of Luka Modric is very much warranted. With Lampard on the way out, Chelsea have the opportunity to build their midfield around a different kind of player, one who will not score half as many goals but who could potentially revolutionise their often insipid style and, vitally, make chances for Torres.

If Torres recaptures his best form, and nudges Drogba aside, and Modric arrives and does the same to Lampard, it should freshen up Chelsea's style. And it could also make them a real threat in Europe.

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