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Vidi FC 2-2 Chelsea, Europa League: Tactical Analysis

Throwback Thursday from Chelsea, creating chances from counters and set pieces and having problems in possession.

First half

Vidi made an aggressive start to the match defensively, pushing up through their central midfielders to press Chelsea in midfield. When they won the ball, they would attack the wings and get their wingers and advanced central midfielders running behind Chelsea’s backline, both from the outside and inside of Chelsea’s fullbacks. Especially from quick attacks when they had the ball deep in their own half and Chelsea pressed high, they played long passes into the channels to create opportunities inside and around Chelsea’s box — where they would commit numbers in the box for crosses.

After the initial aggression, Vidi’s defensive intensity dropped and they maintained deeper control with numbers. Chelsea tried to create on the wings with the wingers, fullbacks advancing (both overlaps and underlaps), Morata joining the wide areas to overload (but then no options inside the box to create a chance), and the advanced central midfielders running behind. Chelsea could get the ball into good positions from these wide attacks, but only had Morata attacking the near post (always tracked by a defender), so Vidi could deal with these situations well.

Where Chelsea could create good opportunities were from Fabregas playing long passes into the box, which Vidi struggled to clear. Chelsea thus created a number of second ball winning opportunities — Hudson-Odoi winning one early on to setup a long shot for Barkley, for example. Set pieces were another area where Chelsea were successful — another second ball situation from an early corner creating a chance, for example: Morata’s header to Barkley at the far post.

Halfway through the half, Willian moved inside for a few minutes to receive the ball between lines, while Emerson advanced higher up on the left and Loftus-Cheek maintained a deeper position. From here Willian attempted to combine and dribble with the ball, the latter winning him a free kick, which he would go on to convert. Vidi were quick to respond by equalising from a corner, which would see the game end level at halftime.

Second half

At the start of the second half, Chelsea created a great early opportunity by keeping the ball deep in their own half against Vidi’s high pressure, drawing Vidi’s defensive midfielder (Hadzic) forward and opening up a vast amount of space in midfield for Loftus-Cheek to launch a 4v4 attack.

The wingers advanced on the outside of Vidi’s backline and Giroud made a good movement on the outside of Vinicius to leave Loftus-Cheek and Willian in a 2v2 on the left side of the field. Loftus-Cheek elected to play the ball to Willian early, which saw him carry the ball inside as he reached the box, but his shot was blocked.

Shortly after, Vidi won the ball in midfield and countered to take the lead. Scepovic received the ball with Christensen following him to pressure the ball, but he played a great first-time layoff to Milanov, running on the outside, which allowed Vidi to break with the ball 3v3. Milanov carried the ball up to the box before finding Nego with a long pass over the top, who finished with an excellent volley.

With a lead to protect, Vidi could now drop back and defend deep in their own half. Chelsea initially struggled to create with their possession since they couldn’t move the ball quickly enough to open spaces, but there were still moments where they found openings, especially when Vidi were higher up the pitch from throw-ins and lost the ball, allowing Chelsea to quickly break and attack while they were stretched. Long passes up to the box again caused Vidi problems and Chelsea could recover the second ball and create chances — Hudson-Odoi, now on the left, looking to shoot on his right foot being one such chance from a second ball. Set pieces again provided good opportunities as well and would ultimately lead to the equaliser through an unstoppable free kick by Giroud.

In the final stages, the game became more open, physical and transitional, with a number of fouls. Both sides had opportunities to attack against stretched defences as a result, but neither were able to create a chance to score the winning goal.

Conclusion

Vidi defended well in deep positions against Chelsea’s short passing and wing attacks once again, and reacted well to going behind to equalise before halftime and to take the lead in the second half. Chelsea created problems when they could draw Vidi out, and counter by recovering the ball in midfield, as well as chances and goals from set pieces. Long passes into the box caused Vidi the greatest problems and created good opportunities for Chelsea — enough chances to win the game, even if they could have attempted a few more of them.