Ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has explained how Thomas Tuchel’s system has made Chelsea “difficult” to play against.
When Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge in January, he already had a clear idea about the Chelsea team he wanted to build.
“We will build a team that nobody wants to play against,” he said after the goalless draw with Wolves in his first game in charge (via Evening Standard).
Impressively, he has pretty much accomplished that in just a few months.
The introduction of his 3-4-3 system improved the defence significantly. Chelsea have kept 18 clean sheets and conceded just 15 goals in the 29 games under the German so far.
It is not simply about adding an extra defender into the formation, though.
According to Guardiola, Tuchel’s system makes use of their wing-backs and Timo Werner’s counter-attacking threat to control the key central areas.
“Why do Chelsea play so well?” The Manchester City boss told BT Sport (via Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE YouTube channel).
“Because they have three central defenders closer [to each other and two holding midfielders who correlate to each other.
“[In the structure] the five players [back three and two midfiders] and two [inside forwards] are so close.
“The distances [between them] are so close, but at the same time, they are so wide with the wing-backs and so [direct] with Werner making runs in behind.
“That’s why you cannot close [them down], because they push you [up front] and [wide], and have good good players in the middle.
“That’s why it’s difficult to face them with the way they want to play with the ball.”
The threat that Werner offers with his pace often gets overlooked because of his poor goalscoring form this season. But as Guardiola pointed out, it is something that opposition teams just could not ignore.
Particularly for teams that like to play a high defensive line, such as Manchester City, Werner can be a nuisance.
Obviously, at times, Werner would struggle against teams that sit deep and defend with numbers, but he can be Chelsea’s trump card against top opposition.