After going on an impressive run last season to cop the most prominent title in European club football, Chelsea is on the run to defend their title. After whistling past Lille in the round of 16, the team is on a roll to repeat last season’s feat, although it might not be as easy as last season. They now face a familiar foe in the quarter-finals.
Winning the champions league is difficult, but defending it successfully is another ball game entirely. In this case, teams now understand how formidable the champions are and would want to bring their A-game. So, with this season’s competition progressing, we continue to see how the European Champions are faring.
Chelsea only lost one game in the group stages, and in the round of 16, it wasn’t much of a battle between them and Lille after the first leg victory. Most sports news say they might not be as fortunate in the next 180 minutes that they face Real Madrid. However, given that they are still in the competition, is it possible for Chelsea to retain their Champions of Europe title?
The Missing Piece: The Absence of Chilwell and Recce James Injury Crisis
Last season the key players to Chelsea’s success were their wingbacks; Recce James and Ben Chilwell. We saw some of the most beautiful tactical transitions with both players in the fray, causing many teams to have issues. Once Tuchel became Chelsea’s manager, we began to see these two go at it incredibly.
They could help add extra men to the attack and increase the defense. Rivals didn’t even know where to place them. The question was – are they midfielders or defenders? It was a revolutionary piece of football that gave the team the UEFA Champions League in the 2020/2021 season.
Entering the new season, the impressive run continued, and many pundits felt that we might have a three-horse race in the EPL. Unfortunately, Chilwell’s injury against Juventus in the UCL put a dent on that, killing the entire season for the club. It went from one misery to another, and there was a huge gap in the team.
With Chilwell out, the bulk of the work fell on Recce James; he soon started experiencing injury crises, seeing him spend most of the matchdays on the sideline. As a result, this is not a strong Chelsea side, and it might be harder for them to replicate last season’s phenomenal run with Chilwell and James missing.
Romelu Lukaku and How He Fits Into the Picture
One of Chelsea’s biggest and most obvious problems last season was their forwards missing chances. During the summer of the 2020/2021 season, the team recruited top stars from around Europe to strengthen the squad during Lampard’s reign as head coach. But it didn’t go to plan because they were wasteful in front of the goal.
Timo Werner was particularly wasteful. However, he was creating chances and providing assists to players. So, the problem was that they needed a poacher and clinical finisher to help the team get more goals, increasing their chances to beat their rivals. In that case, they went out to splurge on a world-class striker.
During the summer transfer window, the team saw the re-signing of former academy star Romelu Lukaku, and the hope was that he would be the missing piece for the team to be complete and become world-beaters. However, that hasn’t proven to be the case since the goals are still lacking.
Unless there is a change in setup and tactics to fit in Lukaku, there might be an issue with the transfer of the big Belgian striker. He is not as free-flowing as Kai Havertz or a runner like Timo Werner. So, there might be a few things that need changes so that we can see Romelu Lukaku shine for his boyhood club.
Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Kante, and 3ATB
Chelsea plays as a unit making it hard to pinpoint a single player. In that case, we’ve seen many players step up to the plate to take up the mantle. The good thing is that whenever they play, opponents find it difficult to play against them. In that case, it is hard to defeat them in a match.
Kai Havertz is one of the key players, and we remember his interesting goal against Manchester City in the UCL final to give Chelsea the all-important lead. Chelsea won the Champions League with that goal, increasing the tally to two and taking them closer to Manchester United on the all-time log.
The Kai Havertz goal was made possible by Mason Mount, who was Chelsea’s best player of the season and had already scored in the quarter and semi-finals. So, he remained one of the key players till today. And then there is Ngolo Kante – the heart and engine of the team. He was the man of the match for the Semifinal and Final ties last season.
Also, Tuchel brought back the Iconic three-at-the-back defensive system that allowed increased transitions from the back to the attack. It is what won the team the champions league last season and might prove pivotal this season.
Thomas Tuchel and His Tactical Genius
The team’s success heavily relies on Tuchel and his tactics. So, we look forward to how he will set up moving forward and the players he will call upon to take up each role. We’ve seen him try a few throughout the season, and we believe he would not want to explore too much at this stage.
As a result, we expect that he will stick to what works and hope that the players turn up to the party. If that happens, there is a possibility that Chelsea will go all the way to win the UEFA Champions League this season.
We can’t predict how the season will go, but we know that Chelsea is a different beast in cup competitions. The team is always good with how they play, and since Tuchel arrived at the bridge, they’ve got very close to winning up to six trophies they compete for in less than two years.
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