If you were to ask someone to predict the outcome for Tuesday night’s game, little – if any – would have predicted a 0-0 scoreline. Chelsea, a team known for their attacking abilities and indeed lack of defensive ones, managed to keep a clean sheet in their first Champions League game of the 2020-21 campaign, while also failing to find the back of the net. However, Sevilla are a very successful and organised side under Julen Lopetegui – and there were both positives and negatives from the Blues against the Spanish outfit.
A Superb Performance by Reece James
First and foremost, huge credit must be given to Reece James for his superb display on Tuesday evening. When the team news was announced, a few supporters may have been surprised to see Reece James in the starting XI, given Cesar Azpilicueta’s experience in the competition. However, the youngster looked confident in every aspect of his game – proving his talents both offensively and defensively. Attacking wise, the 20-year-old provided some excellent deliveries into the box, but he also made some crucial interceptions during the 90 minutes. The youngster’s physical presence was also demonstrated in this game, with the academy graduate unafraid to put in some tough tackles against his opponents.
Edouard Mendy: Chelsea’s First Choice Keeper
Due to Edouard Mendy’s performance on Tuesday night, as well as Frank Lampard’s recent comments regarding the Senegal international, Chelsea’s new keeper is the club’s current first choice. This will be music to Chelsea supporters’ ears, with the 28-year-old looking calm and confident between the sticks against a quality opposition. When it was confirmed that the new signing would be starting in our Champions League fixture, many fans breathed a sigh of relief as rumours suggested that the keeper may not be fit in time for our opening game. However, Mendy looked superb – making some key saves in the game and eventually earning the Blues a clean sheet. His first test came up against Nemanja Gudelj’s header that was then deflected by Kurt Zouma, forcing him to make a quick switch on his feet and claw the ball away with his left hand. He also saved a good low shot by Lucas Ocampos in the latter stages of the first half.
Kurt Zouma’s Sloppy Mistakes Continue
Despite the centre-back providing a good chance for Chelsea in the second half, heading the ball towards the goal from a corner, he also made some defensive errors against Sevilla. One that particularly stood out was his failed clearance in the added minutes of the first half, which fell to Ocampos and resulted in a shot for the visitors. He also made some poor touches and was put under pressure towards the end of the game. Generally, there was a clear improvement across Chelsea’s backline on Tuesday, yet Zouma continues to make the same sloppy mistakes.
Ben Chilwell is the Perfect Signing
However, another positive aspect within the defensive department, is Ben Chilwell’s continued success as a Chelsea player. Since he began playing with the squad, he has slotted perfectly within the team, claiming his place as the club’s first choice left-back. In terms of attack, the 23-year-old once again demonstrated his abilities and also had a good chance in the early moments of the second half. Defensively, however, he still looks solid – making him the perfect signing for Frank Lampard’s team.
Speaking of the manager, there were some questionable tactical decisions made for the game against Sevilla. Although the general team selection was strong, the pivot of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho appeared weak and the decision to place Christian Pulisic on the right was also concerning. Given that the American was Chelsea’s best player since the restart and his strongest position is playing on the left wing, why was Mason Mount occupying that role? Another puzzling decision was the choice to bench Mateo Kovacic. Chelsea’s 2019-20 Player of the Season came on the pitch in the 65th minute to replace Jorginho and he instantly looked superb – winning back the ball in dangerous areas and working hard for the team. Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi were also brought on too late to make any significant difference.
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