PSG 1 Chelsea 1: David Luiz displays his usual self-belief to leave Nemanja Matic trailing behind

ANALYSIS: Chelsea came up against their former defender for the first time since his big-money departure

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The shortcomings of David Luiz have been subjected to much debate over the years, but one attribute he can never be accused of is a lack of confidence.

On the eve of Luiz’s reunion with Chelsea in the Champions League, which came just eight months after a £50m switch to Paris Saint-Germain, he was asked if he felt he had been value for money. “I think everyone in this room will think I’m now worth more,” he replied with a rare serious expression.

Luiz has never suffered from self-doubt. Yet despite being a popular figure in his three and a half years at Stamford Bridge, he would often frustrate as much as excite.

When focused, as he was in Munich for Chelsea’s European Cup victory in 2012, he could be a major asset. But there were too many other occasions that the concentration slipped and he would become a weak link instead – as in the title decider with Manchester United in 2011.

 

Brazil supporters are all too familiar with that frustrating script – memories of their captain for the night going Awol as Germany won 7-1 in the World Cup semi-final last summer may never heal.

Injury to Thiago Motta, meant Luiz started against his old club in front, rather than in the middle of, PSG’s back four. It was a position he thrived in for Chelsea and must have come as a bit of a disappointment for Jose Mourinho to see him selected there. Twelve months ago, Luiz gave one of his most inspired performances in the centre of the pitch to help Mourinho’s side secure a 1-0 win at Manchester City.

david-luiz.jpg
David Luiz with John Terry prior to the match

 

The infectious personality which made him so popular in west London has clearly had the same affect in the French capital – he was greeted with loud roars of approval. He started in confident fashion too, dropping back at every opportunity to pick up possession and kick-start the home side’s attacks.

There was some defensive discipline on show too, noticeably whenever Diego Costa tried to drift away from the penalty area to link up with Chelsea’s midfield.

Cesc Fabregas, pushed forward into a more attacking  No 10 role to allow the defensive Ramires to play alongside Nemanja Matic, was given little room for manoeuvre.

Matic’s presence provided an opportunity to make a direct comparison between a ready-made defensive midfielder and an emergency one. The Serbia international cost Chelsea half of what PSG forked out for Luiz and can lay claim to have gone up in price since joining a year ago.

There was one moment where Matic cruised past Luiz with ease as he drove forward and the latter could only bring him down. But it was Luiz who made the greater impact as the game went on. It was his drilled pass to Maxwell that sparked the move which led to Edinson Cavani’s equaliser.

When Chelsea tried to counterattack, the 27-year-old was always in their way, by fair means or foul. The friendliness with former team-mates began to disappear. Branislav Ivanovic gesturing angrily after one kick to the leg.

Costa, whose £32m arrival to Chelsea was funded by Luiz’s departure, took it a step further by pushing Luiz in the chest after another tackle.

The only thing missing was a goal and he took his chances with a free-kick. If he had scored then maybe he would have been worth more than £50m. But it sailed over the bar. Maybe Luiz is saving it for his return to Stamford Bridge in three weeks’ time.

Comments