Friday, August 12, 2022

Conte The Real Deal As Reactive Changes Help Chelsea To 3 Points In Their Opening Game

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Prasoon Sur
Prasoon is a law student who lives in the North East of India. Wildly innovative, football is more than a passion for him.

Antonio Conte’s regime at Chelsea kicked off in an intriguing manner which is only a child’s step in the lengthy process of rebuilding the former league Champions into a formidable outfit. José Mourinho’s third season syndrome and his inability to pull Chelsea out of the swamps of mediocrity followed by Guus Hiddink’s unfruitful attempts last season made Conte an ideal replacement for the Blues, particularly after his success of rebuilding Juventus.

Conte’s debut in the top tier of English football did yield a 2-1 win over fellow London side West Ham United, but more importantly it has laid the foundations of his side and the tactical nous that he is likely to adhere himself to for the rest of the season.

Formation

The obvious awe was the absence of Cesc Fàbregas from the starting lineup which goes on to imply that Conte would be preferring resilience and solidity over moments of flamboyance at Chelsea. The London derby was approached by Conte with a 4-1-4-1 formation which quickly reverted to a 4-3-3 formation with Nemanja Matić and Oscar dropping onto the flanks and N’Golo Kanté queuing up as a defensive midfielder.

After James Collins equalised the score for the Hammers, it was interesting to see Conte throwing Michy Batshuayi for Oscar are once again shuffling his formation to a 4-4-2 as Willian and Eden Hazard were pulled out for Pedro and Victor Moses. Vehemently altering his tactics and formation to cater to the demands of his side at one point of the game or the other should be something of a regular event for Chelsea under the new era.

Approach

Against Slaven Bilić’s comrades, Conte had set up a side inclined towards high intensity. The west Londoners made 510 high-intensity sprints and notably, it was their controversial striker Diego Costa who made those sprints more than any other Chelsea player. An attacking brand of football with a high tempo coupled with defensive resoluteness shall be advocated by the Italian as the approach which he is going to implement at Chelsea.

Scintillating attack down the flanks and eradicating the strengths of the opposition holds paramount importance in the tactical books of Conte which was evident in Chelsea’s victory over West Ham United where the Blues minimized the gaps between the defensive midfield and the defence to curtail the chances of creating noteworthy goal scoring opportunities.

Dynamism on the Two Flanks

Chelsea’s wingers played themselves out extreme wide on the wings, brushing themselves to the touchline more often than not. They tried to widen the West Ham defence as they formed a triangle on the right wing with Branislav Ivanović, Willian and Oscar plying the trade of short passing among themselves with the spice of creativity and possession.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Eden Hazard of Chelsea scores his penalty during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 15: Eden Hazard of Chelsea scores his penalty during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

On the other wing, the duo of Cesar Azpilicueta, Hazard shook their hands for imposing a strictly attacking strategy of penetrating the final third and making full use of the open spaces, thus making themselves a severe attacking threat for the Irons. The crosses from wide areas to Diego Costa came chipping in and a lot of direct passes were used throughout the game. The versatility Chelsea have on both the flanks and their use as a unit should particularly excite the Chelsea fans this season.

Reactive Strategies

Whenever West Ham tried to build up an attack, the Pensioners would compact themselves and thus the threat from the likes of Andy Carroll was nullified. After the score sheet was even, the vigour in Chelsea’s offensive circulation increased manifold. The attack was much more direct and importance was laid to putting the ball into the box where two poachers in the shape of Costa and Batshuayi were waiting to do the damage, and eventually it met the need of Chelsea.

The reactive strategies devised by Conte worked wonderfully and the continuation of such in the coming span of time is what holds paramount importance.

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