It may be suggested that Chelsea parked the proverbial bus a bit with its distinctive 3-4-3 shape in the 2-0 win over Real Madrid, but that metaphor can only be used if it was a streamlined bus it employed. The Blues hit back on counterattack after counterattack and ran Madrid ragged, if not entirely off the pitch. If it was indeed a bus, it hit the road with blistering electric technology speed, like something out of Elon Musk’s Tesla factories. In reality, there was really nothing held back about Chelsea’s sacking of the mighty Real Madrid at all.
Chelsea attackers were on the verge of blowing the game wide open early and often, but left several excellent chances on the table due to their lack of precision and a couple of fine saves by Chelsea expatriate, Thibaut Courtois. Yet, the defensive structure was bus-like, as in a double-decker red London bus, blocking the goal with keeper Edouard Mendy and his three top central defenders. Mendy delivered another clean sheet punctuated by a fabulous save on a blistering shot by the ever-dangerous Karim Benzema. This time, the clean sheet came against one of Europe’s best. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel proved once again that this iteration of the Blues can stand up—and beat—the best opponents they come up against. Ain’t that grand.
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Chelsea’s attack is breaking out of its doldrums.
In the attack, Kai Havertz was again brilliant as he continues to make his former critics cringe with each subsequent, magnificent performance. Those critical analysts who crushed the young German for his early difficulties—now clearly due to his very difficult bout with COVID-19—can swallow hard and eat their words. Havertz continues to not only justify his record transfer fee, but makes it look more and more like the best value in Europe with each passing game. He’s also just scratching the surface of his talent, as are his German compatriot Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Hakim Ziyech, who has also begun his takeoff for Chelsea, will also be an integral part of the devastating attack that is beginning to look like an emerging, erupting volcano capable of spewing goals all over the countryside. That eventuality is only a matter of time away.
It’s also been written here that German goal-meister Werner was on the cusp of breaking out of his drought. He did so in style against Madrid with a “right place at the right time” goal that knocked the experienced Spanish giants out of the competition with one tap of the head into the back of the twine. Werner finished off a Havertz attempt that hit the crossbar and dropped down nicely (for once) for the young German flash ,whose pace couldn’t be contained by Madrid for the 67 minutes he was on the pitch. Only an earlier offside kept him from the brace.
Later Chelsea’s emerging young superstar, Mason Mount, finished off the Galacticos with a tap-in finish from a perfect ball from Captain America. Mount was everywhere, and Pulisic electrified the pitch with the ferocity of his attacks after coming on in the second half, forcing Madrid into a number of frustration fouls as their only means of containment.
The supreme irony of this magnificent performance—and yet another brilliant effort by Mendy—was that this young, revitalized, hungry Chelsea squad could have blown Madrid back across the English Channel onto the mainland with more clinical finishing. The Blues were that close. In fact, they could have crushed Madrid by a 5-0 score or so. Yet, 2-0 was just fine, thank you, and wouldn’t it be sweet if they finally achieve the breakout that’s close against Manchester City in the final in a few weeks? That would put an exclamation point on the amazing resurgence of the Blues under Thomas Tuchel after a mere half-season in charge.
If the likely attacking extravaganza finally is unleashed in Istanbul, City will cross the Hellespont like Madrid did the Channel: with its tails between its legs after a nifty thrashing at the feet of a Chelsea side that is beginning to peak at exactly the right time.
Chelsea is now firing on close to all cylinders. Its defense is suffocating and the attack is just now springing into life. The Blues will just take things one step, one ball, one minute, one half and one game at a time. A continuation of this trend could deliver big prizes for the Blues in the next month. No predictions here, but wouldn’t that be grand?