‘Getting very dangerous’: Azpilicueta says Chelsea teammate has improved so much at set-pieces

Cesar Azpilicueta hailed fellow Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger for his enhanced influence in the final third, especially from corners or free-kicks.

As quoted by the club website, the skipper lauded Rudiger’s improved effectiveness at dead ball situations.

The German international’s impact in the penalty box was evident last night against Tottenham Hotspur.

How did the match pan out?

Thomas Tuchel’s men travelled across town for the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final with a two-goal advantage from the reverse fixture.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Even though Spurs needed a fast start, it was the boys in blue who kicked into gear early.

They completely dominated possession, rarely allowing Antonio Conte’s team a touch.

But for all their slick passing and sharp movement, they grabbed the lead via a set-piece.

Rudiger on hand (and on head)

Mason Mount’s whipped corner tempted Pierluigi Gollini off his line, only for Tottenham’s goalkeeper to completely miss his punch.

Instead, Rudiger managed to divert the ball with his back into the back of the net.

Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

“He’s getting very dangerous, scoring goals,” said Azpilicueta of his teammate’s danger in the opposing area.  

“He is a great threat on set-plays and in this game he made the difference with the goal and, of course, with his defensive contribution.

“Toni has developed really well since he arrived. He has had a very big impact. Now he’s even a big threat on set-plays, which is amazing.

“The aggression that he has, the way he plays with the ball, it’s a pleasure to have him in our team.”

Set-piece specialist

Rudiger’s destructive nature should be no secret to Spurs, or any Premier League side.

His entire game is built around devastating and dominating, whether defending his own treasures or attacking someone else’s.

He scored a similar goal to the one yesterday against Leicester City earlier in the campaign.

It’s hard to miss the 28-year-old’s 6ft2inch frame, yet Tottenham allowed him a run and jump to put Chelsea ahead on Wednesday.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

This type of menacing behaviour will be sorely missed if Rudiger leaves the club either in January or over the summer.

All we can do is sit back, enjoy the entertainment and appreciate the quality whilst it lasts.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.