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Chelsea vs Zenit: Three lessons learnt in Champions League opener

European nights are finally back at Stamford Bridge. However, this was hardly a clash of the titans. The Blues were the favorites going in and they managed...

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Chelsea and Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge in London on September 14, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

European nights are finally back at Stamford Bridge. However, this was hardly a clash of the titans. The Blues were the favorites going in and they managed to come away with a 1-0 victory over the Russians. In many ways, Chelsea versus Zenit was just another test for the Blues to see if they could beat a team that has no problem defending with numbers and playing for counterattacks. Breaking a team like that is always tough and Zenit brought with it its own unique ideas. The Russian champions were not only extremely organized at the back, but they were threatening Chelsea with a lot of serious attacks too. Had it not been for some amazing defending and brilliant saves, the scoreline might have been quite different on the night.

Chelsea earns a narrow victory over Russian side Zenit at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Champions League opener

The Blues were thoroughly tested by the Russian side throughout the contest. The night was not smooth sailing as Chelsea fans across the globe would’ve hoped for. However, they did see an extremely professional display by their club. While the Blues only won by a single goal, the whole team played very professionally. Thomas Tuchel’s men did well to stop the Zenit attacks, keep its position and go forward time and time again. It was not a dominant performance, but there is something to be said for teams that can play for 90 minutes with such control and composure. This performance showed us that Chelsea is extremely serious about its title defense.

We all remember how the London side fared the last time it was defending the Champions League, and it is fair to say that it will do a much better job this time. For Tuchel’s men, it does not matter if the opponent is Juventus or Malmo. What truly matters is the three points that accompany a win. It was evident that the Blues were not becoming desperate for a goal, but they kept pushing periodically and systematically, which finally got them the goal in the 69′. It was a tough—yet enjoyable—game and the result is quite fair. Here are three lessons we learnt from the 2021/22 Champions League opener:

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