MASSIVE STEP FORWARD!!!
Chelsea played Atletico at Stamford Bridge for the Champions League Round of 16 2nd leg clash. Chelsea had an away goal in the bank and the onus was on Atletico to go and attack Chelsea. Tuchel knew that Chelsea would be afforded space in behind Atletico and he went with a suitable lineup. Mendy started in goal with Azplicueta, Zouma and Rudiger making up the back 3. Christensen missed out due to a fever. Reece James and Alonso started as the wing backs while Havertz, Ziyech, and Werner started up front for Chelsea. A trio of new signings up front and all 3 players needed to show that they were here for the club. Simeone went with a 4-4-2 with several key players back like Gimenez, Carrasco, and Trippier all starting.
The first 10 minutes saw an even start with Atletico having a couple of chances to break through but Chelsea handled it well. Chelsea began to grow into the game and we had a couple of chances in the opening 30 minutes mainly due to the pace of Werner. The first goal came in the 34th minute as Werner pressed down an Atletico cross and got a deflection which fell to Kante. Kante headed the ball to Havertz who lofted the ball into Werner’s path. Werner turned on the after burner’s and drove into Oblak’s box. Werner managed to find Ziyech with a pin point pass and the Ziyech finished past Oblak. A quick fire goal and a deserved one for sure. Chelsea continued to dominate proceedings over the next 5 minutes and we probably could have had a goal more.
The 2nd half saw more of the same from Chelsea. Simeone sent on Lemar, Correa, Dembele, and Hermoso but it left Atletico disjointed. Chelsea were comfortable in the 2nd half and Tuchel brought on Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, and Emerson. Savic was sent off for Atletico late in the 2nd half as he elbowed Rudiger in the chest. All that was missing was the 2nd goal for Chelsea and we finally managed it in extra time. Hudson-Odoi picked out Pulisic who drove from the Chelsea half towards the Atletico box and found Emerson who smashed a left footed shot past Oblak. Emerson’s first touch after coming on and it sealed progression to the quarter-finals.
Chelsea Team Preview
Mendy get’s another clean sheet and it was another calm and collected performance. Mendy did extremely well when he was required to make a save. Mendy looks like a wall at the moment and Chelsea are extremely strong at the back.
Top top performance from Chelsea’s defenders in this game. Azpilicueta led from the back while Zouma who was brought in for Christensen was great in the middle of the back 3. Alongside Zouma, Rudiger also dominated at the back and it was great to see. Zouma and Rudiger didn’t allow Suarez, Dembele, or Felix any space up front and were on them as soon as pass was made. Reece James was solid down the right and managed Lodi, and Hermoso well while Alonso provided an attacking threat up front along with putting in a positive defensive shift. The clean sheet’s keep flowing for our defenders. Emerson and Chilwell came on late in the game and Emerson did extremely well to finish past Oblak to seal the game.
The midfield was magnificent. Kovacic, and Kante were imperious and they both were the reason Chelsea won the game. The midfield is seen as the key area of any game, and Kovacic was his press resistant best yesterday. Kante was top top class and it looked like the Kante of old. The Frenchman was all over the pitch and seemed to pop up anywhere there was a problem. Pressing Atletico players, driving forward everything, all that is missing is a pair of shooting boots. It was an amazing performance.
When Ziyech, Werner, and Havertz all started many fans raised eyebrows before the game. In fairness to the nay sayers these 3 still had to put in a solid performance that would prove that they deserved to start, especially Ziyech for some. Put in a performance they did. It took some time for the 3 to get to grips but as the game went on all of them grew into it. Werner was a threat from the beginning while Havertz’s free roll allowed him to create space and pop up where he was needed. The first goal saw all 3 players involved. Ziyech also looked lively and the goal will do him a world of good. Werner also looked more confident in his shot selection. This game should be a massive step forward for all 3 players. Pulisic, and Hudson-Odoi came on in the 2nd half and Pulisic looked a bit sloppy. He provided the assist for Emerson’s goal though and that should help his confidence as well. Hudson-Odoi also did well and probably should have done better with his finishing. A solid outing by all involved.
Another win for Tuchel as he guides Chelsea into the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 7 years. Chelsea dominated Atletico over two legs and that is mostly down to the German and how we set up. The fact that Tuchel can call upon any player and they seem t put in a top performance means that the system is working and well built. There is still much to improve on for Tuchel and Chelsea especially in the final 3rd as we continue to search for that elusive 3+ goal win.
Big steps forward last night for Chelsea and we should find out who’s next on Friday. Next up is a visit by Sheffield United in the FA Cup! COME ON CHELSEA!!!