In a little over 48 hours from now, Chelsea will take to the pitch in the 2021 Champions League final. It’s something we could’ve hardly imagined at the start of the season, but Lampard’s Chelsea won the group and Tuchel’s Chelsea navigated the knockout rounds with aplomb.
Now, it all comes down to this.
Tinkerman Tuchel has stuck quite steadfastly to his 3-4-3 setup throughout his half of the season, with variations restricted mostly to personnel in the attacking positions and in-game shifts of the formation, often switching to a three-man midfield as a primary alternative.
Ahead of the FA Cup final, Tuchel had talked about not using cup finals for experimentation — though he did throw in a wrinkle by deploying Reece James as one of the three center-backs and moving César Azpilicueta to the wing. More recently, James was even utilized as a defensive midfielder. That sort of versatility will certainly serve him well, and keep opponents guessing just as it might keep us guessing when deciphering the starting lineup.
We do have everyone available. We can paint by the numbers, or color outside the lines. Whatever it takes.