Friday, October 7, 2022

How Thomas Tuchel Masterminded Chelsea’s Fantastic Champions League Win Over Manchester City

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

Chelsea‘s nine-year wait for the UEFA Champions League title came to an end on Saturday when they got the better of Manchester City at Estadio do Dragao. It was an incredible performance from the west London giants, who were resilient and aggressive at the back while their opposition, in contrast, were disappointing, to say the least.

In this feature, we will discuss how Tuchel masterminded Chelsea’s CL win over Man City this weekend.

Making Use Of Half-Spaces

One of the biggest errors Pep Guardiola made in this game was to leave Rodri and Fernandinho on the bench. Instead, he opted for Ilkay Gundogan in the holding midfield role, and with the German not being a natural number six, he failed to offer proper support to the back-four.

It resulted in acres of space being left for the attacking midfielders in Mason Mount and Kai Havertz. Tuchel’s men made no mistake in using this to their advantage, trying to transition the ball through quick passing, navigating easily through Manchester City’s second line of press.

The move saw Chelsea create an impressive number of chances during the early stages of the game. One of them eventually led to the goal, as Mount spread open the backline with his laser through pass to Havertz, who scored the winner.

Neutralising Key Players

The absence of a proper holding midfielder did allow Guardiola to unleash an extra ball-carrier in midfield. While Chelsea’s pressure did force Gundogan to operate deeper than usual, the Citizens still had two crucial players in Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.

How Tuchel masterminded Chelsea's CL win - Kante was an absolute beast in midfield.
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Tuchel was quick to identify this potential problem area for Chelsea, expertly using his central midfielders to deny them space and time with the ball. N’Golo Kante, in particular, put in a monstrous display in the middle of the park, creating multiple turnovers that even led to potential counter-attacking opportunities for Chelsea.

Jorginho was quite impressive as well, offering good positioning and stability in the middle of the park. The collective success of these two midfielders in neutralising the Man City ball-carriers were key in helping Chelsea seal a victory, although the Blues were lucky with the injury of de Bruyne.

A More Flexible System

Pep Guardiola is often known for his mastery in tactics, especially when it comes to the shifting pattern of movements in his positional game. However, it was Tuchel, who unleashed his side’s flexibility in the 5-2-3 to better his Spanish counterpart.

One of the main tweaks to his game allowed Mount to play a free-flowing role in attack and midfield. The Englishman would join Havertz in attack in possession but stepped back to reinforce the second line of press during defensive phases.

Even Antonio Rudiger was seen going out of his line alongwith the wingbacks in Ben Chilwell and Reece James. This rather aggressive but effective positional freedom proved to be a massive difference, up against a Man City side playing without a defensive midfielder.

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