The Chelsea squad emerged with a tight 1-0 win against Atletico Madrid as the winner was scored by who other than Olivier Giroud. Giroud’s strike sunk a tightly defensive Atletico away—far away in Bucharest, Romania—in really a non-home game for either side. But at the finish, advantage Chelsea by virtue of an away goal scored on a magnificent overhead kick by the Frenchman.
I had predicted Atletico to win 2-0 with its magnificent players; mainly Joao Felix and Luis Suarez. However, the difference in the match was Felix missed his bicycle kick, whereas Giroud did not. Giroud put in another Man of the Match performance for Chelsea in the Champions League.
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It was written here a while back, that Giroud deserved an extension. He may be 34 years old, but he’s still among the best strikers in world football. It’s time for the Chelsea Board to come to this realization soon and reward their great winner with an extension. Nothing too aggressive, just one or two years with an option. Simply put, Giroud should finish his career with Chelsea. There are players of his ilk, you know, the natural born striking assassins. Need convincing? Look no further than Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan. He’s still banging in goals in bunches at age 39 all over Italy. He’s scored 14 goals in 13 appearances for the Rossoneri this season, which is brilliant.
Back to Atletico though. Manager Thomas Tuchel fielded a defensive team loaded with good players with little or no attacking talent, except at forward. While his previous success with the Blues has been somewhat questioned by supporters, there’s no doubt now that this win against Atletico is proof that he’s certainly doing things right.
Part of Tuchel’s initial success is certainly due to Giroud, the most underrated and under-appreciated striker in world football. While Chelsea has a plethora of good players, they still have not come anywhere near to achieving their potential under Tuchel. Not while the Blues are still scoring a single goal in many of their games. Tuchel has not yet discovered the combination to unlocking the nascent Chelsea scoring brilliance that he must if this team is going to really compete for silverware. To-date, the results have been very good, but to win cups, the attack has to get much better.
Tuchel’s strategy thus far has been defensive-minded. To some extent that is due to the players available to him at present. Changes to that situation are a summer issue, but from now until June, this side will achieve what it will with the players at hand. That’s a real problem for Tuchel. He has several top flight midfielders at his disposal, but none of the ones he is deploying have almost any attacking panache. That’s the key issue.
The solution in the short-term is deploying Mason Mount in one of the twin pivots in midfield. Since none of Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho or N’Golo Kante is a threat whatsoever in either delivering a key assist or a shot at goal, never mind on the goal, Mount has to be the short-term answer. While Mount’s shooting accuracy is also poor, at least there is some possibility of a key pass and getting a shot on goal. That threat, however slight, still helps and the defense will lose nothing with Mount’s work-rate in midfield.
Releasing Mount from a forward position allows Tuchel to place a real attacking talent into the forward position. That should be Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz. Tuchel has to get these top attacking performers in the game. Some combination of those two players along with Timo Werner and Giroud will help unlock that scoring potential.
Meanwhile, it was a great win against Atletico. Now there are challenging Premier League games follow. Next up: Manchester United at home on Sunday, a very tough test.