Chelsea are absolutely flying. In more ways than one.
Since Graham Potter was appointed as manager of Chelsea, he has won 6 games out of a possible 9, drawing the other three and losing none. It is as good a start as any.
Last night, Chelsea battled RB Salzburg for a confirmed spot in the Round of 16.
An early goal by Kovacic was neutralized by a 48th-minute Adamu strike, not long after which Kai Havertz scored Chelsea’s second to put them back in the lead.
All was smooth sailing for Potter’s Blues until the 83rd minute when Roko Simic and Silva contested for an aerial ball together, and the Salzburg man sent the Chelsea defender flying.
Silva landed very awkwardly after a slight mid-air push from Simic. The landing was a little scarier than would be ideal.
Silva had no support to hold onto as he spun mid-air. He extended his arms with his back to the grass to reach onto the ground but he couldn’t find it, as he fell neck first on the ground. The fall in slow motion looks like something straight out of a horror movie.
Silva was given immediate treatment on the pitch to make sure he was okay. He was off the field for a few minutes, and in those minutes Chelsea fans imagined the worst.
Viewers were hypothesizing worst-case scenarios, arguing if a stretcher and hospitalization would be necessary for a fall this bad.
In the 86th minute, however, strong-hearted Thiago Silva came back on the pitch to see the game out. It brought a sense of relief into the hearts of the Blues as their lead defender and the rock of the team continued to play.
In time, however, the focus has shifted from Silva’s recovery to the foul that was committed by Simic in the first place.
Silva jumped well above his counterpart, who at this point knew he couldn’t win that header.
While the Brazilian was in the air, Simic pushed his feet from under him, completely changing his trajectory and center of gravity, causing a terrifying fall.
The fact that this form of play is not allowed even in the roughest of sports like rugby or basketball speaks volumes.
It is also crucial to point out how this sort of foul is not new to football either, bringing comparisons to a very popular player who frequently does this same action.
England Captain Harry Kane is incredibly infamous for having a long history of doing this and even going unpunished for it every time he does it.
He does it so much that there are compilations of him engaging in this sort of foul play, and often even getting a foul for himself out of it.
The striker did it against Gabriel Maghaeles in the North London Derby which resulted in a very similar and very scary fall for the Arsenal defender.
He did it against Brighton where Mac Allister fell to the ground on his back, and he repeated it against West Ham, causing Cresswell to fall to the ground head-first.
Basketball, a game that revolves around jumping the most also has placed stringent rules around this form of undercutting.
Granted, in basketball there are 3 referees for 10 players in a short court, making it easier to spot fouls, but that’s no reason why it is impossible for football authorities to deal with this.
At this point, you have to question how far UEFA and FA will allow such dangerous play to go on.
Simic wasn’t penalized for this either. Is this setting a precedent that backing into the player to intentionally injure them is acceptable? Because it sure looks like it.