How Chelsea FC Can Protect their Advantage


Chelsea FC — which struggled to defend PSG’s attacks down both flanks — will be looking to protect their away goal advantage as they host Paris Saint Germain in the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16.

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For Chelsea to advance they either must have the match end 0-0 or win the match. If the match does end 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game will go to extra time.

Mourinho will look to continue his counter attacking game plan. Chelsea will be looking to defend their goal before attacking against a PSG side in desperate need of goals. However, the side cannot have a repeat of the first leg where PSG was allowed the freedom to attack down both flanks.

Throughout the first half of the first leg, PSG rightback Gregory Van der Wiel was able to exploit the defensive positioning of Chelsea left winger Eden Hazard. However PSG was unable to convert this positioning into scoring chances due to misplaced passes to and from Van der Wiel.

Mourinho was forced to flip Hazard with the more defensive minded and pragmatic Willian in an attempt to plug the leaky hole. However, PSG was much more dangerous attacking down their right flank due to the movement of their man of the match, Blaise Matuidi.

PSG created all nine of their scoring chances from open play with the assist that lead to their match leveling goal coming from their left flank. All of which was due to the movement of Matuidi.

Matuidi made attacking runs wide left from his central positioning down the left touchline linking play primarily with PSG’s advanced left fullback Maxwell while also allowing PSG left winger Edison Cavani to take up narrow positioning, almost as a second striker.

This mixture of positioning and movement led to to the goal that has given PSG a chance in the match at Stamford Bridge.

The first tactical adjustment that Mourinho will need to make in the second leg is to push central midfielder Cesc Fabregas from the attacking midfield position he played in the first leg, into his usual holding midfield position.

Ramires — who played in Fabregas usual starting position — struggled to transfer the ball from defense to the attacking midfield, turning the ball over countless times, leaving Chelsea vulnerable on the counter attack.

Pushing Fabregas deeper will significantly improve Chelsea’s buildup play while also negating the counter attacking opportunities that Ramires created for PSG by losing possession. Fabregas will allow Chelsea to keep and rotate possession of the ball, thus allowing them to defend by keeping PSG from the ball.

Dropping Ramires and moving Fabregas deep will also create a void in the central attacking midfield position, a position in which Chelsea have a plethora of potential starters. They could go with their usual starter, the hardworking Oscar, or slide Willian centrally to create space for Cuadrado.

The solution that best solves their defensive frailties down both flanks is to slide Hazard to central attacking midfielder, flip Willian to the left wing and playing new addition Juan Cuadrado on the right wing.

Centrally, Hazard would now be in a position where he would not have to track back defensively, allowing Chelsea’s most dangerous creator to be in a position where he could focus on creating chances for Diego Costa.

On the right flank, Chelsea would then have a winger who has played large portions of his career at both wingback and fullback, allowing Cuadrado to be comfortable in deeper positions while marking the runs of Maxwell or Matuidi. Cuadrado also has the stamina and pace to link play for 90 minutes and the dribbling skills to create scoring chances without attacking support.

On the left flank Willian would return to the position where he thrived before his arrival at Stamford Bridge. His play in the first leg showed that he is able to control and eliminate the space that was previously afforded to Van der Weil by Eden Hazard.

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With this defensive shape, Chelsea would form an interlocked midfield against PSG with Costa and Hazard — their front two —  dropping deep to mark PSG’s holding midfielder, likely David Luiz.

The center of Chelsea’s midfield line — Fabregas and Matic — would mark PSG’s central midfielders — Matuidi and Verrati — in an attempt to deny them space to create scoring opportunities.

When Matuidi decides to make wide attacking runs, Cuadrado’s familiarity with playing in deeper roles along with his athleticism in linking play on the counter will comfortably allow him to drop deep and provide Ivanović the defensive cover he needs to negate this threat.

When Chelsea regains possession against an open PSG, having Fabregas in a deeper role will allow him to initiate the counter attacks. Connecting with the dangerous front two of Hazard and Costa or Cuadrado, who will be able to make an athletic run into the space provided by the attacking runs of PSG’s leftback Maxwell.

Next: Costa: I was Never Taught to Respect Opposition