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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Thomas Tuchel repeats Chelsea midfield error vs Real Madrid amid brutal N'Golo Kante dilemma

  Thomas Tuchel's tone post-match probably summarised the sentiment of most inside Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. Only four d...

 

Thomas Tuchel's tone post-match probably summarised the sentiment of most inside Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. Only four days removed from the humbling against Brentford, Chelsea were handed another resounding defeat courtesy of a Karim Benzema hat-trick.

The uncharacteristic Edouard Mendy error following the restart might have effectively killed the tie heading into next Tuesday's second leg, whilst Tuchel hopes to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday at Southampton. There were many things to focus on in this post- match debate piece.

The defensive lapses, the form of Romelu Lukaku or the continuing pain of no Ben Chilwell. But football.london's Chelsea team of writers are going after the case of central midfield after last night's disappointment.

Thomas Tuchel's tone post-match probably summarised the sentiment of most inside Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. Only four days removed from the humbling against Brentford, Chelsea were handed another resounding defeat courtesy of a Karim Benzema hat-trick.

The uncharacteristic Edouard Mendy error following the restart might have effectively killed the tie heading into next Tuesday's second leg, whilst Tuchel hopes to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday at Southampton. There were many things to focus on in this post- match debate piece.

The defensive lapses, the form of Romelu Lukaku or the continuing pain of no Ben Chilwell. But football.london's Chelsea team of writers are going after the case of central midfield after last night's disappointment.

The question surrounds whether Tuchel got it wrong with the midfield he started, particularly omitting the in-form Mateo Kovacic from the line- up again, the player signed from Real for £45m in 2019 has now only started four of Chelsea's last nine games. Pre-match the team debated potentially dropping N'Golo Kante for this clash. In the end, the Frenchman was substituted at half-time for "tactical reasons" as Tuchel explained.

Scott Trotter

It is difficult to know whether Thomas Tuchel got the midfield wrong. Whether Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho or N'Golo Kante are left out, it can often leave an ingredient missing from the Chelsea set- up.

However, the Blues' midfield was fairly non- existent in the opening half as Real Madrid were allowed to expose the home side's defence. Kovacic's mobility would have been useful, but whether the overall difficulties came from too many players underperforming is tricky to know for certain.

The Croatian midfielder can certainly feel unfortunate not to have been in the starting XI, and the early substitution of Kante showed something had to change. The dynamic of the game had been rewritten by the time Kovacic was truly involved, however, with the Blues dominating possession and Carlo Ancelotti's side more relaxed at 3-1 up.

Tuchel clearly wanted his team situated high up the field, as he continued to urge their position forward, and showed frustration when his midfielders were happy to receive a backwards pass. Things just didn't click.

Bobby Vincent

In last season's semi-final, Chelsea dominated the midfield battle.That was largely down to the sensational performance of N'Golo Kante, who was playing some of his best football back then. As we have spoken about, Kante has not been at his best recently, but he could have been helped out more on Wednesday.

Mateo Kovacic was an obvious choice to start against his former team at Stamford Bridge. Despite Jorginho playing a huge part in Kai Havertz's goal, Chelsea would have benefited more from Kovacic's legs in the midfield.

Remember this is against an ageing, albeit very strong, Real Madrid midfield three. In the second leg, it would not surprise me if Thomas Tuchel matched up against the midfield trio and played Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic.

Jake Stokes

With hindsight, it's easy to say that Tuchel got the midfield wrong, but that's football. Jorginho, Kovacic and Kante each had a strong case to start against Real Madrid and, had Chelsea put up more of a fight, then we could be raving about how tactically astute the Blues were.

Ahead of the tie, I wanted the Blues to start a midfield pivot of Kovacic and Kante. Though, seeing as Kroos, Modric and Casemiro outnumbered Jorginho and Kante to great effect, I'm not sure it would have made as big a difference as thought.

The west Londoners finished the game with an expected goals tally of 1.64 to the visitor's 1.31. Chelsea had more than double the number of shots yet struck just five on target. At the end of the day, Real Madrid were more clinical and Tuchel's side paid the price for their mistakes, hesitancy and flat display. Once Kovacic was introduced, Chelsea were injected with an element of urgency and tenacity, sparking the side into life.

Daniel Childs

Jorginho will garner praise for his hand in the goal, but his general lack of speed when Chelsea got possession was pretty tedious and the lack of legs in that area when Real broke was concerning. This is nothing new with Jorginho, it just feels like the past few months are kind of demonstrating why the club desperately needs to invest in the summer.

Mateo Kovacic can feel hard done by. I felt many times in the first half we needed more speed when receiving the ball and trying to progress it forward. By the time he came on, and with Mendy's terrible error, the game had arguably gone and the general confidence of the team looked shot.

Wednesday felt symbolic with Kante's substitution. A midfield overhaul is needed soon. It is something Chelsea have been hiding from for some time but they can no longer avoid it.

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