Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea taking shape after whirlwind start to his reign

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It has been a whirlwind first month for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.

Seven video games. Five wins. Two objectives conceded. Zero losses. One public dressing-down of a participant.

Oh, and hundreds upon hundreds of passes.

The internet result’s a widespread acceptance that Chelsea achieved an improve by firing membership nice Frank Lampard and changing him with extra of an skilled tactician in Tuchel, who has already put his personal stamp on the crew as he transitions to life in English soccer.

The schedule has been sort to the German coach up to now, although, with Premier League matches in opposition to out-of-form groups (Wolves, Tottenham and Southampton) or relegation contenders (Newcastle, Burnley and Sheffield United) flanking an FA Cup recreation at second-division membership Barnsley.

Now it’s time for the hardest take a look at by far of Tuchel’s Chelsea tenure — a last-16 matchup within the Champions League in opposition to Atletico Madrid, the Spanish league chief, and its coach of practically 10 years, Diego Simeone.

“This is exactly what we want, the biggest test,” Tuchel stated Monday. “Because hopefully it brings out one of the best in us. It’s clear when play in opposition to Atletico what you get — you get onerous combating, an skilled crew, a whole lot of mentality.

“We will do it in our way, and they will do it in their way.”

So what has been Chelsea’s “way” because the arrival of Tuchel on Jan. 26, a day after Lampard’s firing and a day earlier than Tuchel took cost of his first match?

In a transparent change of recreation plan, Tuchel instantly switched formation from Lampard’s 4-2-3-1 to a three-man protection with excessive wing backs and two sitting midfielders to shield the again line.

Further ahead, Tuchel has seemed to get extra out of offseason signing Timo Werner by deploying him as an inside ahead, positioned on the left and simply off the principle striker, which has alternated between Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham.

The slate has been cleaned within the squad, with quite a lot of gamers introduced again in, together with left wing again Marcos Alonso — who hadn’t performed since September underneath Lampard — middle again Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi, a winger who’s often working without any consideration wing again underneath Tuchel.

Cesar Azpilicueta, the reliable membership captain, has been a daily within the crew as a right-sided middle half. His days had appeared numbered underneath Lampard.

Then there’s been the clear change in taking part in type, with Chelsea dominating the ball and having at the very least 70% possession in 4 of the seven matches. Against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea had 79% possession and accomplished 820 passes — greater than another crew in a Premier League recreation this season.

Still, some previous habits die onerous. Chelsea continues to battle to convert its dominance of matches and territorial strain into objectives, like within the 1-1 draw at Southampton on Saturday when Tuchel bemoaned his crew’s “lack of precision.”

“I didn’t feel in the last 20 meters that we would kill the game,” he stated.

Expect possibilities to be few and much between in opposition to Atletico’s skilled and famously rugged protection as Tuchel takes cost of a second totally different crew on this season’s Champions League, having led 2019-20 runner-up Paris Saint-Germain within the group stage earlier than getting fired in December.

Tuchel stated Chelsea would have to “over-perform” to get previous Atletico.

“This is only possible if you feel a bond between the players as a coach, and I feel these things,” he stated.

Tuchel stated Hudson-Odoi was in competition to start the primary leg on Tuesday, having withdrawn the 20-year-old England worldwide barely half-hour after bringing him on as a halftime substitute in opposition to Southampton — saying his “attitude” wasn’t proper.

It was Tuchel’s first open spat with a participant since arriving, underlining his repute as a single-minded coach who is just not afraid to converse his thoughts.

Tuchel stated Monday he had spoken to Hudson-Odoi in entrance of the squad in coaching and that the matter was over.

“Sometimes you reflect, ‘Should I have done that?’” Tuchel stated, “as a result of the media, the skin, the household makes it greater than it’s meant. Still, I did it and I had the response I needed.

“I said after the game this is the decision for today, this is the lesson to learn for him. For me, also.”

Indeed, Tuchel nonetheless has loads to study his squad, underscoring the scale of his job in opposition to Atletico as he appears to be like to outwit a coach in Simeone who has been in his put up since 2011.

“You know that you arrive at the highest level when you play Atletico in the first round of the knockouts,” Tuchel stated. “We feel confident. We feel excited.”

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