Chelsea execute ‘Tuchelball’ perfectly in Juventus thrashing in another ominous warning to rivals

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·4-min read
Chelsea execute ‘Tuchelball’ perfectly in Juventus thrashing in another ominous warning to rivals
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Chelsea’s rivals should really start to worry after mighty Juventus were put to sleep, with Europe effectively put to bed for the winter.

This was momentous night for Thomas Tuchel in his 50th game in charge. A daunting show of strength from a team only getting stronger.

And with qualification for the Champions League knockout stage secured, the German can focus his attention on matters at home and widening the gap between his side and the chasing pack.

Good luck to Manchester United, who head to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. There can be no more fearsome a prospect right now than facing the European champions, with confidence soaring and key players returning.

Juve can attest to that. The Italian giants shrivelled in the face of a Chelsea team that bullied them all over the pitch in a 4-0 win that might have been the most complete of Tuchel’s 10 months in charge.

He has already provided a host of landmark performances — not least May’s Champions League final — but increasingly we are beginning to see what his Chelsea vision looks like.

Tuchel’s brilliance so far has been to work with the tools he inherited, to adapt to the hand he was dealt. It has been a case of organisation over inspiration for the most part.

But on Tuesday night his team produced a performance of champions, in a manner that will have anyone who was inside Stamford Bridge believing they are witnessing the next dominant force in European football.

Chelsea pressed high — barely allowing Juve out of their own half. They dominated possession — sucking the life out of their opponents. And they sprung attacks with devastating pace, movement and variation. It is ‘Tuchelball’ — and it is going to take some stopping.

This was a Chelsea without Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner or Mason Mount in the starting XI. But the absence of that attacking quartet only emphasised the threat they pose from all over the pitch.

Trevoh Chalobah and Reece James put them on course for victory, making it 16 goals scored by defenders in all competitions this season.

Tuchel may have a reputation for building the meanest of rearguards but it is the freedom he gives to his defenders that makes Chelsea such a dangerous proposition.

His wing-backs are effectively wingers, with James and Ben Chilwell more often completing a five-man forward line. Centre-backs, meanwhile, are a constant threat from set-pieces, as evidenced by the volley from Chalobah to open the scoring from a corner.

Tuchel has been labelled as overly cautious since arriving in England – an opinion largely informed by Chelsea’s superb defensive record. Last night was their 12th clean sheet in 20 games this season. On no occasion have they conceded more than one.

But it ignores the manner in which they dominate possession and scoring chances.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The issue has been their lack of cutting edge, which is why a club record £97.5million was invested in Lukaku in the summer. It is the one area Tuchel has struggled to master, with none of his forwards proving a consistent goal threat during his time at the Bridge. Yet he has accommodated for that by unleashing the attacking potential of the rest of his team.

James’s brilliant strike 11 minutes after half time was his fifth of the season. He has the same number of assists. Chalobah’s was his third in his debut year in Chelsea’s first team. Chilwell has three and Toni Rudiger two.

When it happens that often, it is not an accident. Still, Tuchel is determined to see Lukaku emulate the form that saw the Belgian fire Inter Milan to the Italian title last season. He wants consistency from Havertz, Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi. He wants Mount to rediscover the form of last season.

That Hudson-Odoi and Werner were on the scoresheet last night is encouraging. So, too, Pulisic against Leicester on Saturday.

This latest win was the ninth time Chelsea have scored three or more goals in a game this term. Tuchel managed it just once last season after taking over in January. It is another example of how his team has evolved and it is an ongoing process.

Lukaku was on the bench on Tuesday night after recovering from an ankle injury, while Werner was a scoring substitute following a hamstring strain.

They have been out for a month, but return to a team that has barely felt the effects of their absence.

But they should add another dimension to Chelsea’s attack, which is something else for their rivals to worry about.

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