Chelsea produced a signature Thomas Tuchel performance to beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Tuchel has managed to completely transform the Blues since taking over from Frank Lampard, and has managed to get the best out of Timo Werner as well.
Chelsea looked solid at the back and frightening going forward against Atletico.
Diego Simeone took his side to Stamford Bridge with it all to do after Olivier Giroud’s wonder goal in the first leg gave Chelsea the advantage in the tie.
Chelsea were met with a surprisingly attacking Atletico setup, and were forced to play through a high press with N’Golo Kante and Matteo Kovacic thriving.
Tuchel had a clear gameplan for the tie, which seemed to involve inviting in the Atletico press high up the pitch and playing through create space.
Attacking players Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech were key in using the space tome the most of the space up the pitch and run at the Atletico defence.
That gameplan was clear to see with Chelsea’s first goal of the game, as Havertz, Werner and Ziyech combined to punish Simeone’s side.
After dealing with an attack from Atletico, Havertz was given the ball near the halfway line and held it up well before setting Werner free on the left.
The pacy forward used his speed to attack the space and play a beautiful cross-goal pass for Ziyech, who simply had to stick out a foot to open the scoring with a tap-in.
The assist wasn’t the only involvement Werner had in the game, however, as he put in perhaps his best performance since joining the club.
The forward has clearly been struggling with a lack of confidence this season, and has been poor in front of goal.
After being played out wide and as an inside forward, Tuchel took somewhat of a gamble to play him up top instead of first-leg hero Giroud.
But Werner repaid the faith perfectly with a fine performance, and was a constant nuisance for the Atletico defence.
Werner played off the last man and seemed to revert back to the tool which made him a success at RB Leipzig – his pace and movement.
For the goal, he drifted into space wonderfully and attacked the open area of the pitch to give himself freedom to put the ball on a plate for Ziyech.
On numerous occasions Werner tried to make runs in behind the Atletico defence, only for his team-mates to look elsewhere.
During the second half, he gained the ball in the Atletico half and ran at the defence, but made the wrong choice and shot when a pass for Havertz was on.
But that didn’t dampen his confidence or stop him from making runs in behind, and he even acted as a target man at one point as he created a chance for Havertz by holding the ball up on the halfway line.
Getting the best out of Werner was one of Tuchel’s biggest tasks upon taking over from Lampard, but it seems he’s well on his way to getting the striker back to his best.
Werner will be undoubtedly be unhappy at his lack of goals, but his movement and energy against Atletico proves there’s a bright future for him at Stamford Bridge.
He now needs to keep his head up and his self-confidence high in the run-in as Chelsea face a crucial three months in their domestic and European campaigns.