'Difficult': Peter Crouch and Rio Ferdinand agree on why Chelsea star struggled vs Juventus

Rio Ferdinand and Peter Crouch came to the same conclusion as to why Romelu Lukaku suffered for Chelsea against Juventus last night.

Speaking on BT Sport, the two pundits confirmed Lukaku was starved of service from his teammates during the Champions League defeat yesterday.

The Belgian cut a frustrated and often lonely figure in the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.

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According to WhoScored.com, he managed just 28 touches of the ball; only goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and substitute Ross Barkley had fewer for the Blues.

His and Chelsea’s one shot on target arrived in the first half, a controlled drive that was easily captured by Wojciech Szczesny.

Juve’s centre-halves had something of a field day at Lukaku’s expensive, rarely troubled by the striker but also never giving him a sniff.

Why was it so easy for the Serie A side? Because Chelsea made it that way.

Those with the orders of creating opportunities for Lukaku failed miserably, this dig mainly aimed at Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech.

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Two players full of quality yet lacking in consistency or confidence.

They were unable to offer their no.9 any means of scoring a goal, which added to Chelsea’s downfall.

Pundit’s perspective

“I think Lukaku is somebody who thrives off opportunities,” said Ferdinand.

“He’s an opportunist in the box, he’s a fox in the box.

“Balls in down the sides of teams. None of that is happening for him at the moment. So he needs other people producing and supporting him.”

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Crouch continued, saying: “Like (Didier) Drogba, when you feed it into someone, he holds it and you need runners off him.

“I’ve played that role myself. If I’ve got runners off me, either side, people in front of me; you need options.

“I don’t think he had that tonight. Ziyech and Havertz weren’t getting round him, they weren’t getting past him.   

“It makes it so difficult for the striker, so isolated on his own.”

Why Mount means so much

As Crouch also highlighted, Chelsea and Lukaku missed the presence of Mason Mount, who was absent through injury.

He threads the transitional phases from midfield to attack excellently, demonstrating a valuable ability to find spaces unbeknown to the untrained eye.

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Havertz and Ziyech can also do this, but not with the same zest as the young Englishman.

Timo Werner’s pace probably wouldn’t have deterred Juve that much, considering they put nearly every man behind the ball.

That is why Thomas Tuchel brought on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, someone who is decent in tight spaces and eager to draw defenders out of position.

Yet, Loftus-Cheek still couldn’t bring Lukaku into the match, nor could he alter the result.

A tough one to take for Chelsea, a loss that needs to be eradicated soon with a visit from Southampton over the horizon.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.