Chelsea FC made another historic comeback today in the Champions League quarterfinals against Paris Saint Germain to seal a trip to the quarterfinals. They did so on the back of some wonderful goals from Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba as well as excellent all around play from the defense and goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Perhaps the most interesting point to take away from the match was Jose Mourinho’s decision to play all three of his strikers at once. He took off midfielder Frank Lampard who was having a good day and should have scored on his deflected free kick but was on a yellow and was a clear risk for a second. Demba Ba came on for Lampard to join Samuel Eto’o and his physical presence up top gave Chelsea a different way to attack the PSG defense. Balls were being hoofed up towards the Senegalese striker who is excellent in the air and his flick on gave Schurrle a fine chance to run on to but the German’s shot was tame and easily saved.
Mourinho on his three striker formation:
“[PSG was] using counterattack, closing everything. It was difficult for us to penetrate in the second part of the second half. So I play Dembna and Fernando, we trained that yesterday in training. We train yesterday the three different systems we use. The one we start with, the one without Lampard, and finally the one with Demba and Nando in and the players knew what to do…Demba made a crucial finish for us.”
The next tactical change was to bring on Fernando Torres for Oscar who was also having a good game but was tiring. Torres had a few nifty moves in the box but could not find the back of the net. He was however very active in tracking back and made several good clearances to help kill off the match. In the end it was Ba that scored the winner but it was Mourinho’s decision to play all three strikers in the final minutes that changed the game.
It gave Chelsea a more direct approach in chasing the final goal and as Mourinho and John Terry said, they had practiced for that scenario with that formation. Mourinho has already established as a master tactitian but today’s match was a masterclass and another feather in the Portuguese’s cap.
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