2017 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL HOTELS, CARDIFF June 3RD & KIEV 2018 - CLICK HERE to BOOK HOTELS PACKAGES Whats the Mata? Tactically, how important is the young Spaniard?

Whats the Mata? Tactically, how important is the young Spaniard?

He needs no introduction does he? Juan Mata was the only silver lining to our rather disappointing league performance last year and this year has epitomized everything the Chelsea holy trinity stands for.

This is his natural movement –

As clearly seen, he starts on the right wing. A big question that has always been asked is why is a left footed player on the right flank? It is just because this allows Mata to cut in and exchange roles with Hazard and Oscar all over the pitch. Mata, Hazard and Oscar, all like the No.10 role and this was a problem Di Matteo had to answer. So he built a rigid pivot defensive structure, with one player able to go front and drift wide for defensive help and the other player able to push deeper to help defense, right behind a structure of 3 players who play free-flowing football with no fixed roles. This also involves a technical striker upfront who is willing to come deep to help in possession and drift wide for players to cut in as the defensive fullbacks make forward attacking runs.

This is Mata’s attacking heat-map taken from all his games from the start of this season to the Capital One Cup clash against Manchester United that ended 5-4 (including) .

As it can be seen, Mata’s dominant position is in the No.10 role and this is why I applaud Di Matteo. If you were to check the heat-maps for Oscar and Hazard, it would be the exact same. The free-flowing , passing and intelligent off the ball movements makes everything look very beautiful. This helps all the 3 players including the striker up front to get into scoring position but mostly they find themselves in positions where they can pass rather than score. Reason why Chelsea have over 14 different scorers so far. This heat-map also clearly shows that Mata cuts in very much, which causes Chelsea a problem of width. Solving this problem was easy as the full-backs pushed forward during the attack phase along with one of the pivot players, while the most defensive minded pivot player, pushed back to form a 3-man defense.
Now lets have a look at how Chelsea switches into a counter-attacking phase, which has helped quite a number of goals –

As seen the three attacking players move up front. This happens because Ivanovic and Cole or whoever is our full-back will not be there for width, hence Mata, Hazard and Oscar have to move to the flanks while one of them moves up front with Torres. Moreover Ramires pushes up front with his pace while Mikel holds the middle of the park. Chelsea’s counter-attacking philosophy does not believe in playing it through the middle but more on moving to the flanks, quickly cutting in and then drifting wide again. Mata is integral as his cutting in and drifting attitude helps us out at the right. Hazard loves to be in the middle and will probably stick to the center than go to the left. 17,9,11,10 and 7. These roles are not fixed at all, anyone can take up any role. That’s the beauty of it.

Come on Chelsea !

Sherry Philips ( @bluebloodSherry ), Deputy Editor

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