Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe importance of Juan Mata - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The importance of Juan Mata - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The importance of Juan Mata

After the first 11 minutes of the FA Cup quarter final between Manchester United and Chelsea, with the score just gone 2-0 after Wayne Rooney’s goal, it all looked pretty grim for Rafael Benitez and the Blues.

And just when Chelsea fans thought it couldn’t get any worse, Rafael Benitez substituted Frank Lampard, an attacking midfielder, for John Obi Mikel, a defensive midfielder. There were audible chants from the fans insisting that the Spaniard didn’t have a clue what he was doing.

It turned out that this time, at least, Benitez got it right and Chelsea stormed back to draw the game and probably should have nicked it at the end.

Whilst Benitez’s changes were astute the real reason behind Chelsea’s comeback was their Spanish midfield maestro Juan Mata. Mata’s constant energy and drive were key to Chelsea’s attack and he was always positive, even with his team 2-0 down.

Mata is a sensational player and, quite frankly, Chelsea got a great deal when they paid Valencia £23.5m for the Spanish international. He has prospered since coming to England and, especially this season, he has become of very significant importance to Chelsea.

What is it that makes Mata so effective? Well, his ability to drift into tiny pockets of space is second to none in the league. Mata has a wonderful reading of the game and knows where to go to receive the ball and when he gets it his touch is so assured and his mind so quick that the next move has already been made.

United’s back four looked tired from their European excursions against Real Madrid and they allowed Mata all sorts of time and space and he dissected them like a surgeon.

He is a great finisher, too, and chips in with timely goals. In fact, Mata nearly won the game for Chelsea against United on Sunday with a Bergkamp-esque touch and turn but David de Gea pulled off a brilliant save to make sure the two teams do it all again at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea fans must be thanking their lucky stars that Mata has proved to be such a great buy and I’m sure if you asked any of them which player they would not want to be without as they fight for a Champions League place a large majority would put forward the Spaniard’s name.