Analysis

The Debrief: Thiago Silva prominent; defending front to back

Our statistical analysis of yesterday’s game focuses on how we kept La Liga opposition at bay, with players contributing to that across the pitch…

Top tackling, well-placed passing

With Chelsea reacting to the three goals shipped in the Premier League draw against Southampton at the weekend with last night’s scoreless Champions League opener with Sevilla, attention was naturally on the changes to the defence made for the game.

The 0-0 draw was the first such scoreline in Frank Lampard’s time in charge, in what was his 63rd game at the helm, and the club’s first since playing Leicester away in Maurizio Sarri’s final league game in May 2019.

In terms of his personnel choice against Sevilla, Thiago Silva and Reece James came into the backline and Edouard Mendy returned in goal and all three backed up their selections with statistics.

James was the top tackler among the players from either side with six made. Add to that three clearances and one shot blocked, with no fouls committed, and it was solid contribution. He managed to make it forward for five of his crosses too.

Thiago Silva’s performance was praised by Lampard after the game and his standout influence was on the ball. He played the most passes in the game by a Chelsea player with 60, with a game-best accuracy of 90 per cent among the Blues who were on the pitch for more than a few minutes of the contest.

His heatmap below shows he was needed out wide as well as in the centre to counter-attack Sevilla's threat. 
 

The summer signing only strayed with one short pass attempted, and with one medium-range pass, with six out of 11 long pass completed.

The Thiago Silva to Kai Havertz connection was strong with the German collecting four of those passes played through, with Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Mason Mount all receiving balls from the Brazilian at the back.

Lampard noted his side making the decision at times to play passes longer rather than retain possession at the back against a side he likened to an English team in their style of play. Sixty-three of our 519 balls attempted were long ones, compared with Sevilla’s 88 from 623.

We survived 17 crosses from the Spaniards without conceding and to achieve the clean sheet, Mendy made two saves. Chelsea had four shots on target.   
 

The front end

In the attacking side of the game, Werner was the most prominent across both sides in attempts to score – with three shots of which two were on target. Next up was a less likely source, Kurt Zouma with two, from which one, his header from a corner, needed saving.  

Ben Chilwell and Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic were the most creative on the pitch with two key passes apiece. Pulisic continues to return following his injury with a game-high three dribbles, compared with two in the previous game.

Chilwell, speaking in the wake of the game, paid tribute to the contribution the whole team made to the clean-sheet showing, noting: ‘the wingers and the midfielders were all putting a shift in for the defence’.

The stats show that with Havertz only just behind James in tackling numbers, with five challenges from him (plus three aerial challenges won), and substitutes Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic certainly added to that part of the performance with three and five tackles respectively despite only coming on in the 61st and 64th minutes.

From a historical perspective

Lampard is making his European mark. In addition to the below tweet, when it comes to the post-1992 Champions League competition alone, he is only the second Englishman to lead a club in two Champions League campaigns, following on from Bobby Robson at Newcastle who took part in three (1993/94, 1998/99 and 2002/03).
 

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