One key factor that came to characterise Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge of Chelsea was the unforgiving central defensive partnership of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho. Established as the club’s first choice pairing, and at the top of their games, the partnership provided the strong foundations for much of the side’s success.
However, Mourinho has yet to establish the same kind of partnership in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, with a rotating pair of Gary Cahill and David Luiz lining up next to virtual ever-present Terry. But with Terry ageing and Mourinho yet to install his full confidence in either Cahill or Luiz, there is space for another centre back to come into Stamford Bridge. Having observed him at close quarters during their Champions League defeats to the Swiss side, would Mourinho be well advised to make a move for their 21-year-old centre back, Fabian Schar?
Schar has won more of his defensive duels in the Champions League than any Chelsea defender this season. The 16 tackles that he has won is the 8th highest among any player in this season’s competition and is 9 more than the highest Chelsea defender, John Terry. This difference comes in spite of the fact that Basel have made three fewer tackles than Chelsea. Schar’s tackling is also impressive when compared to his own teammates, dismissing any suggestion that Basel’s style of play is the reason that he has made more tackles than any Chelsea centre back. Schar’s imperious total of 16 tackles is only three fewer than the combined tackles made by Basel’s other three most frequently played defenders in this season’s competition.
CL Defensive Actions Schar
Averaging 11 defensive actions per game, Schar also trounces his Chelsea counterparts in the area of defensive actions. Making 55 defensive actions over five games, Schar’s total is over double the amount made by both Luiz and Cahill. Whilst this is slightly mitigated by the fact that Basel average 49 defensive actions per game and Chelsea 39, Schar has proven a rock in defence.
CL Defensive Actions 2013/14
Particularly impressive are his interception numbers. Only two players in this season’s Champions League have made more interceptions, suggesting that the 21-year-old can read the game well. David Luiz makes interceptions more frequently than Schar – every 17 minutes rather than every 24 – but has a well-documented tendency to go walkabout, and lacks Schar’s solidity.
Performance Score comparison 2013/14
Schar still has areas of improvement to make – namely possession – and has a Performance Score over the season that is lower than John Terry’s. However his score is higher than Cahill and Luiz, although he has played more games, and is a solid foundation at such a young age.
CL Passing 2013/14
One area of improvement that could be made is his possession. Whilst he has made more passes than any Chelsea centre back, Schar has the lowest accuracy of the quartet. He does, however, have two key passes and an assist, and can attribute the lower accuracy to Basel’s less dominant and slightly longer style of play than Chelsea’s. At 21, and at a club that would likely accept a reasonable offer, Schar could provide a bargain option for a Premier League side looking for a long-term central defensive prospect.Published 29 Nov 2013, 02:50 IST