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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Hakim Ziyech on Chelsea mentality, adapting to Tuchel tactics and his warning for Real Madrid

  Hakim Ziyech has made quite the journey with Chelsea this season. The winger started the term with a great deal of work to do to win ov...


Hakim Ziyech has made quite the journey with Chelsea this season. The winger started the term with a great deal of work to do to win over some of the fanbase, and was perhaps considered among the favourites to leave the club with links to Barcelona and Borrussia Dortmund emerging.

The former Ajax wizard put in a sterling pre- season that was punctuated with the opening goal in the UEFA Super Cup final against Villarreal, only to have his progress brough to an abrupt halt when an awkward landing saw him injure his shoulder.

 The 29-year-old struggled to make himself comfortable from that point, returning quickly from the injury but struggling to play with the freedom that would allow him to move off the bench .

However, 2022 has seen a different Ziyech as he's appeared to deliver on his pre-season promise. Goals in consecutive Premier League games against Brighton, Spurs and Crystal Palace set the tone , before a brief setback with an Achilles problem, but a special goal against Middlesbrough has ensured that Ziyech remains at the forefront of Thomas Tuchel's mind.

Ziyech told Chelsea's official website : "I'm good, I'm getting better every week again. Just came back from injury of course, but it goes well. Everything is fine. It's crazy, everytime you're doing well you get an injury and you have to start over again. Right now I think I'm in a good period and I'll try to do that again.

"With injuries it always comes at a bad moment and the games are coming quickly behind each other and there's also not a lot to work harder on. If you didn't play you do a harder session than the others but it's not always the fitness that you needed when you come back from injury. Like I said before, I'm on the right track and I'm going to do what I left before."

It's not only injury issues that Ziyech has had to work through in his time with the Blues however. The former Moroccan international has had to get used to a new system under Tuchel. The German coach has favoured playing with three central defenders since his first days at the club, and it was something completely new for the winger.

He said: "It effects me of course. Everybody knows if I play wide it's my best position. When we play four at the back, most of the time I play on the right. When we play a back five there is a different system but during the time since he came in, I adapted really good.

I think I had a bit more problems than most other players because I never used to play in a back five. I needed some time and I took that time to adapt and to learn from it and improve and you will see me at this point in that role, it's much better than in the beginning.

"He (Tuchel) has a clear idea of what he wants and how we want to play. He is bringing that over to the group in a really good way, in training, in games and in defending-wise we all have our responsibility and attacking-wise we have our freedom to find space and to create our chances."

The Blues have already picked up the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, while missing out in the finals of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup during Ziyech's time at the club. Given recent events with Roman Abramovich being sanctioned and the club up for sale, there has perhaps been more scrutiny than ever.

Ziyech acknowledges that any push for the title is probably too late, but believes Chelsea have a winning mentality that can see them through this period. The Blues ace wants the team to come away with two more trophies this term.

He said "I think that is something where everything that is against us it gives us a feeling to never give up and keep going and keep going and believe it, and we achieve it and deserve it as well. To be honest our group has always been close. This thing is out of our hands and there's nothing we can do about it.

We only focus on the things we can do and that is winning our games and performing well. That's our main focus and all of the other stuff we can discuss about it but it doesn't change anything.

"Everything comes quickly behind each other and there's not a lot of time to enjoy it. We won the Champions League last year but we can remember it as yesterday or the day before. That's not what the focus is on right now because everything comes quickly behind each other. We're still in three leagues and that is our main focus. There are two leagues where can really do good and win trophies.

"Of course, that is the most important I think, the winners' mentality and knowing what you want and always keep believing in it. We want to win the two cups, the league is not really realistic but so where we really play for, if we talk about trophies is the FA Cup and Champions League of course."

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