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Sep, 20, 2012

Mikel apologises for wayward pass

John Obi Mikel has apologised to his Chelsea team-mates for the misplaced pass that allowed Juventus to snatch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

• Chelsea 2-2 Juventus
• Digby: Juve prove a point
• Brewin: Oscar centre stage
• Blog: Juve back among best

With just ten minutes left of their opening Champions League fixture, Mikel carelessly played a ball into space, and Claudio Marchisio immediately seized on it to feed Fabio Quagliarella for the equaliser.

"If I want to make up an excuse, I can," Mikel said, "but, for me, I gave the ball away. I put my hands up, we move on. I'm sorry about the mistake, but there are no excuses."

By winning the Champions League, Chelsea may have lost one of the very qualities that took them so far - so says defender Branislav Ivanovic, who feels some of the gritty defending that was evident in the final fixtures of last season has not been evident.

As manager Roberto Di Matteo made a point of saying on the eve of the Champions League opener against Juventus, winning the competition allowed them to sign attackers of the calibre of Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Ivanovic, however, believes that the alteration in team structure has left a few gaps. That became evident again on Tuesday as Juventus punished Chelsea by pulling back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2.

"We actually play differently from last year: more attacking," Ivanovic said. "But we have to be focused. Everyone has to form a defensive organisation. It's difficult, but concentration and motivation are important.

"Players have to realise that every situation they face can be dangerous, and we have to cover for that, but these things will come in time. It will take a few weeks, especially after the international week. We have to improve every game to get better. There is plenty more to come from us."

But Ivanovic praised the contribution of striker Fernando Torres, saying: "He goes down the side and fights for every ball. It's very difficult to fight against three defenders like he did, but he did a great job - and defensively, too."

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