Four things we learnt from Chelsea's defeat to Dinamo Zagreb
Photo: Jurji Kodrun/Getty Images

Chelsea's indifferent start to the season continued on Tuesday night, as they began their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. The Blues dominated the early exchanges, but it was the home side who took lead in the 13th minute through Mislav Oršić's smart finish.  

Despite trailing, Chelsea were unable to ask too many questions of Dominik Livaković in the Zagreb goal. The  strong all-round performance from the Croatian champions proved too much for Thomas Tuchel's side, resulting in a famous victory.

A dismal night for the 20/21 European champions means there is a lot to be discussed. Here are four things we learned from Chelsea's shock defeat.

London is Blue - but not in the way you think

It is turns out that Chelsea are not the only team from London who have tasted defeat against Dinamo Zagreb. In fact, the Blues' loss mean they become the fourth team from England's capital who have tasted defeat against the 23-time Croatian champions. 

The trend began back in 2015, when it was Arsenal, like Chelsea, who travelled to the Stadion Maksimir for the first game of their Champions League campaign. With Oliver Giroud seeing red before half-time, the Gunners' trip to Eastern Europe ended in a 2-1 loss, despite Theo Walcott's late goal.

​Photo: David Price/Getty Images
​Photo: David Price/Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six years later, in 2021, two London teams came up against Dinamo Zagreb in European competition. Firstly, Tottenham headed to Croatia for a Europa League round of 16 second leg with a 2-0 lead. However, it was home side who reached the quarter finals, earning an unexpected 3-0 victory. 

Dinamo Zagreb's only victory in London took place at the London Stadium in last season's Europa League. They defeated West Ham 1-0 in the final group game, claiming their third London victim.

Chelsea's homesickness continues 

Comparing the Blues' home and away records this season is like comparing chalk and cheese. They remain unbeaten at home, earning seven out of a possible nine points in the Premier League. Away from Stamford Bridge is a different story; defeat in Zagreb means they are currently on a three away game losing streak in all competitions.

Moreover, the manner of these away defeats have set some alarm bells ringing. Tuchel's team have deserved to lose these games, being outplayed in all three by Leeds, Southampton, and now Dinamo Zagreb. Chelsea fans expect their team to be winning these games, so not even managing to compete has caused some to worry.

​Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images
​Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images

The Blues have not looked anywhere near convincing in their four away games to date. The consequences of this trend continuing look dire, with regards to both the league, and Europe. Simply, Chelsea's away performances must improve. 

Debut defeat shows need for patience 

Following their spending spree in the summer, this game marked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Chelsea debut. However, he was unable to make much of an impact in his first game. The Gabon forward failed to register a shot, before being subbed off in the 59th minute.

​Photo: Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images
​Photo: Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

This is not to imply that Aubameyang was wholly responsible for Chelsea's defeat. Instead, it is evidence that the intended results of the Blues' investment in the transfer market will take time to materialise. Players will need to get up to speed (Aubameyang only made one substitute appearance this season for Barcelona). 

Despite this, the context of the Blues' start to the season means added pressure, and expectation to perform.  

Qualification will be no picnic

If the Chelsea fans, players and manager were under no illusion about the ease of their Champions League group before, they certainly will not be now. Any complacency will have evaporated in the early Autumn, Eastern European air. If tonight's performance is replicated as the group stage goes on, fans expectant of topping the group will start to ponder whether the Blues will even make the Europa League.

Dinamo Zagreb demonstrated tonight that they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. They were able to soak up Chelsea's early pressure, broke brilliantly for their goal, and arguably had the better of the chances when the score was 1-0. AC Milan and RB Salzburg will need to perform close to their best, and considerably better than Chelsea, in order to merit a result against the Croatian champions. 

Photo: Darren Walsh?Getty Images
Photo: Darren Walsh?Getty Images

However, Tuchel's strong starting line-up implies that the German does not ancipitate any sort of easy ride. He will also be aware that his team need to improve, and drastically given the way they have performed thus far, especially away from home. After defeat in Croatia, three wins at the Bridge might not be enough to secure progression.

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