Rio Ferdinand says that Chelsea duo Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta were both constantly charging out from defence last night in the Champions League.

The Blues kickstarted the group stages with a 1-0 home win over Russian visitors Zenit St Petersburg. 

Romelu Lukaku headed in the winner during the second half to give Thomas Tuchel’s side victory in their bid to retain the Champions League prize. 

All eyes now turn towards their London derby against rivals Tottenham in the Premier League. 

Pundit Ferdinand picked out Chelsea defenders Rudiger and Azpilicueta as two bright sparks on Tuesday night. In particular, he loved the way that both centre-backs joined in with attacks.

“The two centre-halves really pushed on [in the second half]. They were assertive. Rudiger was flying up and down the pitch with the intensity that’s needed. Azpilicueta is the actual man who crosses the ball for Lukaku to score. That’s the two centre-halves really taking it upon themselves to influence the game,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport 2 (9:52pm, 14 September).

Chelsea FC v Zenit St. Petersburg: Group H - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chelsea FC v Zenit St. Petersburg: Group H - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Rudiger and Azpilicueta key to Chelsea system

First of all, Rudiger showed against Zenit why he’s one of the first names in the team under Tuchel.

 

The 28-year-old was his usual self in terms of defending aggressively whenever called upon, but what he does on the ball is often overlooked. He starts almost every game as the left-sided centre-back in a back-three, which gives him the licence to step up the pitch.

The German made a stunning 70 yard dribble that had fans off their seat last night, plus received the ball in the opponents half on so many occasions. 

Meanwhile, Blues club captain Azpilicueta plays as the right-sided centre-half. 

The 32-year-old has mastered the craft of that role over the years, so it was no surprise to see his pinpoint cross headed in by Lukaku against Zenit. 

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