Not just points, Chelsea and Juve have lost invincible aura

  • Sumil Sudhakaran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 15, 2015 13:05 IST

It's a good time to place a few bold bets. Folks who have, be it at the US Open, English Premier League or the Serie A, are reaping dividends.

Who would have thought that after five rounds of the Premier League defending champions Chelsea would be languishing in 17th spot? Of course, there is always a reason behind even the most unfathomable scenarios; in Chelsea's case it lies between the goalposts and the midfield. But then, doesn't Jose Mourinho have the solution to even the trickiest of football puzzles?

Moving south of England, Juventus, the club that is synonymous with Italian football, are in the middle of an even worse start to the season, in fact the worst ever in their history. The club that surged to four straight domestic league titles with the ease usually accorded to the Celtic in Scotland find themselves 16th in the table, with just a point from three matches.

Problems with the Old Lady of Turin and the middle-aged man guiding her (Massimiliano Allegri), however, is not restricted to any particular section of the field. For a start, the team, despite bringing in fresh faces, are struggling to adjust to life without Andrea Pirlo,
Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, and to an extent Fernando Llorente. Allegri, as expected of a coach, retains faith in the new strike force of Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, and he may well be repaid for that in the coming weeks but Juventus' early-season struggle has finally shown the other Italian teams that that Old Lady is no Hulk.

The psychological blow that champions of England and Italy have been dealt would have its implication down the road as well. During the good days of Sir Alex Ferguson (where is he now?), it was a common observation that teams came to Old Trafford with no hope of winning. Tactically, Mourinho may be a smarter coach and may indulge in mind games even more frequently but the Portuguese still has some way to go before being as intimidating as Ferguson.

The loss of points to sides such as Crystal Palace and Swansea so early in the season has stripped Chelsea of the apparent shield of invincibility Mourinho painstakingly erected with a little help from his muscleman, Diego Costa. No one expects Chelsea to keep throwing away points; the side, despite having to rely in central defence on an inexperienced Kurt Zouma and an over-the-hill John Terry, is too good for that. The clever tactician he is, Mourinho will find a way out of the quagmire, and Costa and Eden Hazard may soon begin to fill opposition nets with the help of Cesc Fabregas. But expect no English side to throw in the towel before entering the Stamford Bridge or while hosting the Blues.

In case of Serie A, expect teams such as Roma, who have done some great business in the transfer window, Inter Milan and AC Milan to put some real, and possibly a long, fight for the title.

In the meantime, let us place some bets over a lager or two on the next round of results. In case you can, also search for the person who risked a few dollars couple of weeks ago on an Italian lady at the US Open, for whoever he or she is, may well have the answers to all of world's problems.

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