Chelsea’s victory against Slavia Prague was by no means an easy feat. While many were expecting Chelsea to roll over the Czech Republic side, the game proved to be difficult for the Blues.
Our opposition were good on the ball, pressed with intensity and also had a direct play. Their fitness level is also high as they never got tired of pressing Chelsea all game.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri admitted after the game that he knew Chelsea were up against a difficult side.
Sarri said: “We knew very well to play here is very difficult. The opponents are very physical, very aggressive, so we knew we had to face difficulties during the match. We were able to face them well, then in the second half we were able to play better.
“Now we need to think the second leg will be difficult. These opponents are also very dangerous away, like against Genk ( where they won 4-1). We need to be careful.”
Slavia were by far the better side in the first-half, and also pushed Chelsea in the second-half as Kepa Arrizabalaga made a good number of saves to keep Chelsea in the game.
Chelsea sealed a win late in the game as Marcos Alonso’s 86th minute goal at the Eden Arena gave the Blues a narrow advantage to take back to London for next week’s return match.
Slavia Prague manager Jindrich Trpisovsky was left to rue his side’s lack of effectiveness in front of goal, and he felt that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga played a crucial role for the Blues, making good saves to deny Jan Boril and Ibrahim-Benjamin Traore before Alonso’s winner.
“I think that there were two situations, Boril’s and Traore’s chances. If there was a different keeper than Kepa, we would have scored,” he said.
“You never get ten chances in such big games, only a few and you have to take them. We just needed more quality in some of the situations. When Kanté, Loftus-Cheek and Hazard came on to the pitch, Chelsea made it much harder for us.”