Juan doesn't Mata in Europe

Juan doesn't Mata in Europe

The obvious headlines will focus on the man who came in from the cold, but the real Chelsea story concerns the one they left behind.

Fernando Torres dominated. Juan Mata disappeared.

Jose Mourinho might have let the cat out of the bag during the 3-0 win in Schalke on Wednesday morning.

His team sheet was an obvious plot-spoiler. Torres was his main man. Mata was a real nowhere man.

The Blues boss may trot out the "horses for courses" line, claiming his diminutive Spanish master craftsman still has a pivotal role to play in midfield.

But this Champions League game was very much a must-win contest. And Mourinho picked his potential winners.


His critics have suggested he doesn't know his first 11. Wednesday's selections looked pretty close.

After losing their opening game against Basel, the Blues were aware of the significance of a positive performance in Schalke, particularly Mourinho who had never previously won on German soil.

Victory leaves them comfortably top of Group E with two home games to come. Defeat would have been unthinkable. Mourinho took no chances in his line-up.

In the games that really matter, there's no place for Mata.

Last season's club Player of the Year never made it onto the pitch.

Even when the fixture was effectively ended with 20 minutes still to play following Torres' second goal, Mata never figured in the pragmatist's plans.

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