In a very entertaining Champions League clash between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel team delivered their best performance so far this season to seal a 1-0 away win against a defensive-minded Diego Simeone side.
Before the game started in Arena Nationiala in Bucharest, it was expected that Chelsea will find it hard to beat Atletico when considering the Spanish club’s form this season and the defensive approach they often use. Simeone men are the leaders in La Liga while Chelsea have struggled this season before the arrival of Tuchel. In the game, however, Tuchel masterminded a tactical plan that worked for the Blues and they now take a 1-0 advantage into the second leg.
How was this win possible for Chelsea despite the toughest defensive plan used by Simeone with 6 defenders at the back?
One plan Tuchel used that helped Chelsea was keeping the ball as much as they could. Atletico used a 4-4-2 formation for the game while Chelsea used 4-3-3. But whenever Chelsea were attacking, Atletico’s formation was always changing to 6-3-1 as Thomas Lemar and Correa constantly joined the defence.
With this tactical change, Simeone men didn’t have much body in attack and Tuchel used this advantage by making his team keep possession.
By keeping the ball for a long period, Chelsea dominated throughout, limited Atletico from attacking and also ended the game with a better ball possession.
With 6 defenders at the back for Atletico, Chelsea would have been passing the ball around and then pass the ball back to their defenders to find spaces, just like they usually did earlier this season. Tuchel didn’t allow that. He made his players penetrate Atletico’s tight defence the way it was. There was no passing to the back and Chelsea’s attacking was very direct.
Although there were times when Chelsea were dispossessed while attacking due to the fact that they were risking everything and trying to do the impossible, they still didn’t give up on the plan and eventually got the only goal of the game through it.
Not many players in attack
With Chelsea constantly in possession, Tuchel only allowed 4 players in Chelsea’s attack as you can see in the image below. So, whenever Atletico were counter-attacking, Chelsea always had more players in midfield and defence to stop them.
Alonso was the only player who joined Werner, Giroud and Hudson-Odoi in attack, but Mason Mount worked with them. Mount did a great job in the game along with Werner.
Chelsea looked like a different team in that game. They were able to contain Atletico and break their strong defence. This was achievable through Tuchel. Now his team look ready and determined to go far in this season’s Champions League.
These 3 tactical plans Tuchel used yesterday might not be used in the next game or in the second leg at Stamford Bridge next month. This is because the German often studies a game at a time and use the plan he considers fit for that particular game. For now, he looks like the right man for Chelsea.