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Chelsea 3 - 2 Shakhtar Donetsk - Tactical Analysis

1.43K   //    08 Nov 2012, 19:15 IST

The spirit of Stamford or the ghost of Stamford as away sides call it, was in full force as Chelsea grabbed 3 points right under the noses of Shakhtar, with Victor “God sent” Moses scoring a goal in stoppage time.

Chelsea were tactically well organized and as days pass by, Di Matteo is learning more and more. He carefully covers up all the errors in the team but one main error he’s having trouble with is the defense. Getting Luiz’s head straight will be his number one priority but only his man-management skills can help that.

Chelsea were moving about as they always do and I have nothing to explain. I’ll now show you one incident that could be seen pretty much always in every game but more obvious this time, and analyze Willian’s equalizing goal at the start of second half. Really sorry for the picture quality!

As can be seen in the first frame, look at Hazard and Bertrand. Bertrand being a natural LB wouldn’t normally be so up the pitch, but this is Chelsea’s attacking phase where the LB pushes up naturally. Mikel is not seen in this frame but is on the right flank just after recovering the ball. Oscar has pushed deeper into Mikel’s role whereas Hazard has cut in from the left into the center as Mata stays on the right. Oscar is just about to pass to Ramires.

Ramires has just received the ball from Oscar. Look at Hazard. Comparing from the first frame, he has changed his body position to face left as if he is about to go there. Bertrand on the other hand makes a quick run to the left so as to receive the ball further up the pitch. But who will he pass to over there? A long pass to Ramires is risky, isn’t it?

Yes it would be very risky, but Hazard saves the day! He uses his pace to give Bertrand an opportunity to pass. This increases the chance of a Chelsea player getting the ball by 30 %! Moreover, Mikel has just entered the frame after returning from the right flank. Why? Seeing that Hazard has gone left and left a deep hole in the middle, he begins moving to the AMF role, yes AMF! Mata keeps sticking to the right all this while. Another thing to notice is, Ramires’ sudden change in posture to move to the LB position, so as to provide additional cover for Bertrand. Oscar has at this point decided to stop moving as he see’s Mikel moving to the center.

Bertrand has finally received the ball and though the quality is not clear, it can be seen that Hazard’s raising his hands in a motion to indicate his availability. Oscar has made a stop while Ramires debates the decision with himself, whether to go back or let Luiz handle it.

Bertrand sends the pass to Hazard and then Hazard weaves his magic. It is important to note that Ramires has gone to the left and Oscar has stayed in the CDM position, whereas Mikel has now officially become the AMF, changing it from MAZACAR to MAZAEL . Bertrand expects to play a quick one two with Hazard, but Hazard goes on with the ball through the left by himself.

This five frames clearly show how disciplined Chelsea’s attack is. This is just one instance and  if you told me to squint my eyes and stare at the computer screen while Chelsea are attacking, I can pick out thousands of instances as Chelsea keep altering their attacking phase with variation.

Variation. That has been the downfall of the team’s that have played Chelsea. A pat on the back to Robbie from me.

Now to analyze Willian’s goal -

Rat, as we all know by now, is a left-back very similar to Cole. He has made a cut into the middle, thus forcing Willian to the left. Adriano on the other hand makes a dart to the right which allows Willian to come into the center. Teixeira is a right winger, he has cut in and made it to the box. Mkhitaryan has also made a run into the box whereas Fernandinho has taken up the AMF role. Srna can also be seen on the right corner.

Notice the amount of open space on the left, clearly exploitable.

Rat has just passed to Adriano and Willian who made a dart to the left receives the ball. Rat makes a forward run whereas Teixeira and Mkhitaryan are cleverly marked. Srna is at this point more than just open, with only Hazard near him.

Rat and Adriano switch. Everyone is in their natural positions now. Willian has four choices. Pass to Rat and cut in, pass to Adriano and continue right with a crossing opportunity, cross directly to the two players in the box or move into the center and pick out a wandering Fernandinho. What does he do?

Fernandinho, here I come! He cuts in while Rat moves to the left. Ramires spots and comes in to close down Fernandinho. Oscar trys to make a wall to stop Willian from continuing forward.

Srna is raising his hands. Fernandinho has seen that. Ramires keeps trying to close in as Willian cuts inside the box.  Keep an eye on his movement. Texeira still has a battle with Luiz. Now Fernandinho had two choices. Pass to Mkhitaryan and ignore Srna or pass to Srna as Mkhitaryan has clearly dragged Bertrand out of position.

If you had to define annihilation with an example, this would be it. An absolutely brilliant pass from the Brazilian to literally tear apart Chelsea’s left flank.  Hazard is not a natural defender and you cannot blame him. Poor case of judgement from Ashley Cole‘s under-study. Willian is very close to the box.

Willian then just runs in with his pace. Srna now has 3 choices. Pass to Adriano with a low dipping cross, cut back to Mkhitaryan or lay it in for Willian and Texeira. He goes for the third choice.

 A simple finish for Willian who made it look tough with a half-pass, half – shot. 2-2 and the European Champions were stuttering. In my honest opinion, Chelsea are lucky not to face them every week.

The obvious points that can be taken from this is that Chelsea’s defense is frail when there is no one who can read the game perfectly. At this point only John Terry and a fully focused David Luiz can do that. Cahill doesn’t make the bar for reading the game but his acts of tackling and clearance makes him the better choice with John.

Come on Chelsea!

Topics you might be interested in:
21, live in Doha, Qatar. European Football, Chelsea, E-Sports.
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