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Chelsea 3-0 Dynamo Kyiv, Europa League: Tactical Analysis

Chelsea missed a number of opportunities to score in the first half, and Dynamo’s second half display will give them confidence for the return fixture, but Chelsea go into the second leg with a comfortable three goal lead.

First half

Chelsea created a number of chances during the first half, consistently moving forward from their own half and midfield with the ball to attack the box.

Up against Dynamo’s 4-4-2 in the first half, Chelsea found the spare man in the middle to shift Dynamo’s front two side-to-side, from pressuring one central defender on the ball to the other, while the other man covered Jorginho. The flat four behind would then needed to cover Chelsea’s advanced wide central midfielders, as well as the wingers following Chelsea’s fullbacks. When Chelsea’s central midfielders picked up a position between the wide and central midfielders, they could open space for the fullback to progress forward and be found through a long pass over the top, such as in the following example.

The direct pass over the top to the far corner allowed Zappacosta to run behind and create an opportunity. Had David Luiz played the simple pass over to Christensen, to then play forward for Zappacosta, Buyalskiy would have had the opportunity to move over and recover the space to track Zappacosta back.

Chelsea continued to attack on the right hand side with long passes behind for Pedro, as well as rotations and combinations between Pedro, Kovacic and Zappacosta.

When Chelsea lost the ball their pressure was aggressive, allowing them to recover the ball high up the pitch. Dynamo had further problems when trying to counter on their right, where David Luiz was too dominant physically for Rusyn to cause any problems.

Dynamo attempted to push up and pressure at times, but Chelsea continued to find spaces and the spare man before playing forward to break the lines. It was during one of these movement, and after switching wings for a few minutes, that Pedro drove inside with the ball from the left, combined with Giroud inside the box and scored to provide Chelsea with an early lead.

Zappacosta running behind, combinations with Giroud inside the box and Pedro running behind would continue to create chances for Chelsea in open play during the first half, along with set pieces and recovering the ball high when Dynamo attempted to play short from the back. However, Chelsea would go into the break only one goal ahead.

Second half

For the second half, Dynamo switched to a 4-3-3, moving Shaparenko back to the left of the central midfielders. This helped them a great deal in pressing since rather than the front two shifting side-to-side constantly and the wingers getting drawn in tight to cover Chelsea’s wide central midfielders, they would instead have the two wide central midfielders pushing up to pressure the ball in their aggressive moments (so Chelsea were now 3v3 rather than 3v2 in these areas). And when they allowed one of Chelsea’s central defenders to have the ball (usually Christensen) they would block the pass back across to David Luiz and be ready to pressure Chelsea’s forward passes up the wing.

Dynamo were began to maintain possession (Chelsea struggling to press them high up), as well cause problems during counters, while Chelsea weren’t creating as much as they had been in the first half. It was in this moment that Chelsea brought on Kante and Loftus-Cheek, which brought energy to press and recover the ball back into the midfield, as well as a fresh physical player to cause problems with the ball in the final third. In doing so, Loftus-Cheek won the free kick which was then converted by Willian to extend their lead and put Chelsea in a much more comfortable position.

Dynamo continued to press Chelsea well and hold their midfield lines defensively, but this would also leave them stretched and open in the moments where Chelsea broke through the pressure, where they created chances and further extended their lead late on in the game through Hudson-Odoi.

Conclusion

Chelsea created a number of chances in the first half, while Dynamo, in their 4-4-2, were having numerous problems in holding their positions in midfield and attempting to apply pressure higher up. In the second half, Dynamo’s switch to a 4-3-3 improved their pressing and ability to hold their defensive lines in midfield. Chelsea’s changes provided a boost in midfield, before Willian’s free kick extended their lead. Chelsea missed a number of opportunities to score in the first half, and Dynamo’s second half display will give them confidence for the return fixture, but Chelsea go into the second leg with a comfortable three goal lead.