Chelsea’s season hasn’t exactly gotten off to an easy start. Life was always going to be difficult after a turbulent summer that saw a new owner, numerous club executives fired, and star defender Antonio Rudiger leave. However, few people would have predicted that Leeds, Southampton, and Dinamo Zagreb would already have lost this season.
Even the win over West Ham at the weekend was a lucky break thanks to VAR’s decision that the Hammers’ late equalizer was offside. Against Zagreb in their opening Champions League game of the 2022-23 season, the Blues’ issues persisted.
1. Starting Aubameyang
The Gabon striker’s Blues debut did not go as well as he had hoped. In the opening 10 minutes, he had three scoring chances, but he missed them all before the game ended.
When Kai Havertz squared the ball across the six-yard box, he came dangerously near, but Aubameyang chose not to gamble with his run, and the opportunity was lost.
Tuchel would have been better off playing an additional midfielder rather than going with a legitimate goal threat in the form of the former Arsenal captain because Chelsea lacked creativity in the first half. Aubameyang was replaced in the 59th minute.
2. Dodgy midfield
Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount were the only midfielders Tuchel chose to start. Despite the Blues using all three of Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Conor Gallagher in the victory over West Ham, the audacious move was made.
Chelsea were occasionally left wide exposed in the midfield as a result of the German’s risky decision to play the pair while moving Mount into a deeper role. That was particularly clear in the case of Zagreb’s opening goal, which was the result of a straightforward counterattacking pass through midfield that Kalidou Koulibaly was unable to intercept.
3. Underestimating Zagreb
It appeared as though Tuchel had not fully pumped up his team for their opening Champions League match of the year. They were frequently outdueled to second balls and appeared unprepared for the level of determination displayed by Zagreb in the first half before turning it on too little, too late.
The defense, which was made up of veteran Cesar Azpilicueta, newcomer Koulibaly, and newcomer Wesley Fofana, seemed unprepared to handle the threatening counterattacking threat offered by the Croatian team.
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