How do you break down a crew that shapes up in a 6-3-1 formation out of possession?
It is a query Chelsea had been pressured to try to discover a solution to after they travelled to Bucharest to tackle Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night time.
Even by Diego Simeone’s obsessively excessive requirements of defensive solidity, his crew had been in a very stingy temper in Romania. That opening gambit shouldn’t be a misprint. Every time Atletico misplaced the ball, a flurry of Rojiblancos shirt retreated to their very own 18-yard line.
Centre backs Mario Hermosa, Stefan Savic and Felipe, wing backs Thomas Lemar and Marcos Llorente, and proper ahead Angel Correa would reply to El Cholo’s raspy screams, teaming as much as create one of the imposing low blocks in world soccer.
Collectively, the system would pose issues to any set of attackers. Nevertheless, the exceptional expertise of every of its composite elements – even with the absences of Kieran Trippier and Jose Gimenez – made Chelsea’s activity even tougher. Every member of this seemingly impregnable defensive wall has contributed considerably to an Atleti crew that has conceded simply 16 objectives in La Liga this season and shipped simply eight in a Champions League group containing the irrepressible Bayern Munich.
Regardless of all of this, the Blues nonetheless managed to flee from the competition with a win and, maybe extra importantly, a vital away objective. That they had Olivier Giroud to thank for this, a participant who has seemingly been on the cusp of being shipped out of Stamford Bridge for the previous two years.
The as soon as undesirable Frenchman netted one in every of Chelsea’s nice European objectives. Latching onto Marcos Alonso’s diverted cross, he produced an overhead kick that was virtually as lovely as his chiseled jawline.
issues extra broadly, Thomas Tuchel can take loads of positives from his facet’s efficiency as an entire.
Earlier than Giroud’s freakishly sensible strike settled the sport within the second half, there have been loads of indicators that Chelsea had been slowly piecing collectively the best mixtures to interrupt down their joy-sapping opponents.
Many sides have registered monstrous quantities of possession when going through Atletico in a European knockout tie, however Chelsea had been a part of a choose few that truly managed to threaten their opponents.
Key to this had been the shows of supporting forwards Timo Werner and Mason Mount. Their approaches to breaking down the house facet’s defence various, however each had been efficient at factors. Werner opted for lightning fast exchanges on the sting of the field with Giroud. This tactic paid off on a number of events as nicely, with the German trying the sharpest participant on the pitch by a ways.
Mount, in the meantime, drifted round within the half areas, seeking to swap the play rapidly with a deep cross or let loose his teammates with an incisive cross. These pair of younger upstarts had been supported by Chelsea’s wing backs whose runs helped to pressure overloads in vast areas. Jorginho’s lengthy, crossfield passes had been vital as nicely.
This contest was billed as a litmus take a look at for Tuchel’s new look facet and the outcomes had been extraordinarily constructive. Breaking down Atletico is likely one of the hardest duties any European facet might be posed however the Blues rose to the problem, showcasing invention within the last third to determine themselves as favourites to progress when the pair meet for the second leg on 17 March.