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Chelsea 3-1 BATE, Europa League: Tactical Analysis

A comfortable win for the Blues

First half

Chelsea were able to consistently break and bypass BATE’s attempts to press higher up the pitch, sustain attacks in the final third (recovering the ball quickly and high up to prevent counters), and get behind BATE’s backline on the wings to create chances — scoring two early goals.

Zappacosta could consistently bypass the attempts of Stasevich and Volodko to defend against him on Chelsea’s right, using his speed to get down the line and behind to play crosses into the box. Chelsea profited from this early on with Zappacosta finding Loftus-Cheek for his first.

When BATE attempted to press high in Chelsea’s half, Chelsea were always able to keep the ball under pressure before finding a spare man in space to progress up the field (to take the ball up to the final third) or they could bypass the pressure by dribbling past opponents.

For example, in the build-up to the second goal, Pedro played a 1-2 with Fabregas to move into space with the ball, before finding Loftus-Cheek to advance with the ball up to BATE’s final third — along with support on the outside to attack with numbers. Following this attack, Chelsea won two corners which lead to Loftus-Cheek scoring his and Chelsea’s second.

In the rare moments that Chelsea did not recover the ball and BATE were able to keep it, they used the technical qualities of Hleb to keep the ball under pressure and allow supporting players to move forward, or they found Signevich to use his physical qualities as a target man in order to hold the ball or draw fouls. When they attempted to create with the ball, BATE once again relied upon the qualities of these two players, but there were not enough other threats in order to keep the ball and cause Chelsea’s defence problem.

Upon losing the ball, BATE would be left open and stranded high. When they attempted to maintain these positions and press, Chelsea could advance past their pressure to the final third and create further chances. If they dropped back to midfield, they would leave Fabregas too much space and time to receive and play a long passes over the top (for Pedro mostly).

Chelsea’s wide attacks in the final third consisted of three players, that all with good dribbling qualities with the ball. Zappacosta continued to get behind on the right, while Kovacic and Pedro could dribble and combine on the inside to get into the box. From the left, Willian could dribble both on the outside to put crosses into the box and inside to combine or shoot, while Loftus-Cheek and Emerson dribbled and combined to move inside the box with the ball. When leaving the wings, Willian and Pedro would again combine on the inside and overload on the same wing, with Giroud as another target to combine with.

Second half

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, but with BATE able to hold their shape in midfield as Chelsea’s possession slowed down and they waited to create openings through circulation of the ball.

BATE’s attempts to press high and in numbers from a Chelsea throw-in again saw Chelsea quickly find a spare man through switching the ball over, where Loftus-Cheek carried the ball forward again before his quickly taken shot saw him score his and Chelsea’s third goal of the match.

BATE continued to attack with numbers when they could, and switched to a 4-4-1-1 in the second half with Yablonski on to play next to Dragun in midfield, while Ivanic played higher up as the attacking midfielder. As they continued to counter down the wings, they managed to win a free kick to profit from their attempts with a goal. A great ball over to the far post, where Rios made a late run from deep around the back of Chelsea’s backline to put the ball into the net. But, Chelsea remained calm and prevented any chance of a late comeback to see the game out.

Conclusion

The early goals killed the game, with it becoming just a matter of how many more goals could Chelsea add to their lead. Chelsea had the quality and organisation to break and pass any attempted high pressure by BATE, which saw them consistently move up to the final third with the ball to create and sustain attacks. The second half maintained the same pattern as the first, where Loftus-Cheek completed his hat-trick and Chelsea saw out the game comfortably.