TCC View: Chelsea's narrow win at Barnsley raises question over Tuchel's 3-4-3
The hard-fought 1-0 win over Barnsley on Thursday uncovered the problem Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will have to address ahead of the upcoming tough run of fixtures.
It was only about time until Chelsea finally have to face a team that would not just sit back and let Tuchel’s men have possession of the ball in the opposition half.
Fortunately for Chelsea, the first intense pressure they had to face came from Barnsley that failed capitalise the chances they had.
Of course, Tuchel made 10 changes to his Chelsea side and the pitch condition was poor, but it was just several months ago they cruised past the same opponents with a 6-0 win.
Tuchel had to abandon the three at the back structure
After the game, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss admitted that he changed the system from his unbeaten 3-4-3 to a 4-1-4-1 formation to escape Barnsley’s pressure.
Unlike Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3, Tuchel’s is far more aggressive with the two wingbacks effectively operate as wingers.
Tuchel wants to create an overload in midfield as the two centre midfielders and two inside forwards occupy the central areas.
But given the width comes exclusively from the two wingbacks, Chelsea would struggle when they are pinned down in their own half.
Barnsley successfully did that on Thursday (note that Callum Hudson-Odoi played as a winger in the second half).
Tough run of fixtures ahead
Starting from 28 February, Chelsea will play againt Manchester United, Everton, and Leeds United before facing Atletico Madrid for the second leg on 17 March.
Unlike Barnsley, these teams are unlikely to waste the type of chances Chelsea conceded in mid week.
No doubt that Tuchel will come up with a new idea, though — he is often described as a tactical chameleon for a reason.
Will he tweak the 3-4-3 system or is he going to implement a completely new system? Who knows? Being unpredictable is what makes Tuchel a very interesting coach, after all.