Away from the passion of the Mestalla, Valencia were a long way from their best. The Spaniards were able to command 66% of possession, but Chelsea were still more than happy and eventually won with some ease. Possession is only worthwhile when it is allied to penetration, and there was very little of that. Valencia's performance made a mockery of statistics.
Having already alienated Nicolas Anelka and Alex, André Villas-Boas suggested that Fernando Torres, Mikel John Obi and maybe Frank Lampard might have a similarly negative outlook. By introducing Oriol Romeu and persisting with David Luiz and Raul Meireles, the young Portuguese manager showed his vision for Chelsea's future. Didier Drogba's shot, following Juan Mata's control and Daniel Sturridge's persistence, gave Chelsea a perfect platform, and the home team dropped deep, conceding possession to Valencia in the middle third.
They did little with it to hurt Chelsea, and were happy to roll the ball around far too slowly in ineffectual areas. Crucially, the central defensive partnership of John Terry and David Luiz, which has looked quite shaky at times in recent weeks, left little space behind. They kept close together, and covered for each other with applaudable distrust. Last night they appeared comfortable, showing that after an awkward introduction their partnership could now develop into something more solid.
They were rarely pulled out wide, defending simply across the width of the box. On the left flank Ashley Cole was restrained and held his ground and on the right Branislav Ivanovic kept his shape too, playing the ball swiftly to Sturridge. As a consequence neither David Luiz nor Terry was forced to come out of position to cover the touchlines.
With only Roberto Soldado in attack, there was little that threatened Petr Cech at close quarters. Perhaps Valencia, having found no encouragement from prodding the ball around in front of Chelsea's solid group, might have attempted to overload wide and disrupt their opponents' easy pattern, but instead they played into Chelsea's perfect tactical instructions.
David Luiz played reliably and responsibly, maintaining both concentration and position. He burst forward only once in the entire game, and curbed his inclination to attempt difficult manoeuvres in inadvisable areas. The Brazilian proved influential in what was a perfect team plan from Villas-Boas, though Valencia proved a dismal disappointment.