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Matic: "My first objective when I get the ball is to play forward"

Mike Hewitt

In the aftermath of the Serbian making his full Chelsea debut, we've been talking a lot about Nemanja Matic's midfield playing style. It's early days yet, but the reigning Player of the Season in Portugal was impressive, roving around and breaking up attacks and seemingly always looking to feed the forward players whenever the ball is won.

And according to the man himself, we should get used to it:

I always try to push the team forward. If I have to pass backwards of course I'll do that but, for me, the first objective when I get the ball is to play forward.

With my former coach [Jorge Jesus], and now Mourinho, they have both asked me to try to play good football and to not be scared when I have possession, so I want to use their advice.

Defensive midfielders are very important in terms of providing balance. You always need to be positioned in between the defence and attack. Also, if a team like to play on the counter it's a role where you have to get on the ball early and help the team break.


The first objective is to play forward. That's what defensive midfielders tend to do, of course -- they're in a position where most available passes are in that direction -- so Matic isn't an exception in that sense. But where he's different is in his desire to contribute to the attack. Many 'holding players' are one-way only, but that's obviously not part of Matic's playing philosophy, and while I'd trust him not to play anything particularly risky he's not going to simply make the safe move 100 percent of the time.

Unless they're relying on runs from Ramires, Chelsea haven't been very good at moving the ball through the centre of the pitch. Matic, with his balanced game, will help address that in games where we need to spring fast counters.

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