Analysis

The Debrief: Outstanding Oli shines in Spain as Blues produce a perfect European away performance

After sealing top spot in our Champions League group with a game to spare, the statistical analysis of our 4-0 win in Seville focuses on the outstanding efforts of four-goal Olivier Giroud, as well as a textbook performance away in Europe.

Giroud was at his clinical best in Andalusia, firing us in front early on with a composed left-foot finish before completing his perfect hat-trick with a right-foot dink and a front-post header.

He even added a fourth for good measure, converting a penalty he had won with his last involvement of the evening.

As he left the field at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan with six minutes remaining, the congratulatory greetings from staff and team-mates alike on the Chelsea bench told a story of its own. However, there was far more to this Giroud masterclass than four goals alone…


Four-midable Giroud

On his 50th start for the Blues, our number 18 made it a night to remember on the continent. His 38 touches were an array of deft flicks, strong hold-up play and, of course, deadly finishes inside the 18-yard box.

No player on the pitch had more than the Frenchman’s five shots, four of which hit the target and the back of the net, or more than his four successful aerial duels.

Last week in Rennes, Giroud soared through the air to head in a stoppage-time winner to ensure we kept pace with Sevilla at the top of Group E, netting his first Champions League goal for Chelsea in the process. A week later, he has five to his name and 11 in all competitions this season for club and country.

In the process, he becomes our oldest scorer of a hat-trick in European competition since Gianluca Vialli’s Cup Winners’ Cup treble against Tromso in 1997, as well as the oldest in Champions League history. However, at 34 years of age, there are clearly few signs of slowing down quite yet!

Different defenders, another clean sheet

Frank Lampard completely reshuffled his back four for the trip to Spain as part of nine changes overall from the side that drew against Tottenham three days previously. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Toni Rudiger and Emerson Palmieri all started in front of Edouard Mendy, and contributed to an eighth clean sheet in 10 games in all competitions. It was also the first time Sevilla have not scored at home in the Champions League group stage in 18 attempts.

Our defensive record of one goal conceded in five group games this term is the joint-best in the competition alongside Manchester City, while Mendy himself has now kept four clean sheets in his first five Champions League appearances for the club, a new Chelsea record.

As impressive as our attacking play was in Seville, this was also a night where defensive resilience, diligence and concentration was put to the test. The hosts actually edged us for possession (55 per cent to 45 per cent), touches of the ball (700 to 608) and completed passes (445 to 349), areas of the game Lampard’s side usually dominate. However, Champions League football often requires a different approach, especially on the road.  

After taking the lead inside 10 minutes following an impressively bright start, the visitors dropped off and adopted more of a contain-and-counter approach. While unable to punish on the break, our defensive work was exemplary, with 16 tackles, 13 clearances and 10 interceptions recorded throughout the 90 minutes, as well as five blocked shots. 

Azpilicueta was particularly key, leading by example with a game-high number of those tackles and interceptions, and was the away side’s leader of touches down the right-hand side.

Other statistical highlights

Each side had a similar pass success rate (Sevilla edging it with 85 per cent to our 83 per cent) and 12 key passes apiece, with Mateo Kovacic and Emerson claiming three each for the Blues.

Giroud became the first Chelsea player to score four goals in a game since Lampard in March 2010 against Aston Villa. He now has 17 goals in Europe for the Blues since signing in January 2018, 11 more than the next best goalscorer (Hudson-Odoi on six).

Chelsea made 10 successful dribbles compared to Sevilla’s six. Emerson, Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi all recorded two.

The victory was our fourth in a row in the Champions League for the first time since March-April 2012, when we went on to lift the trophy. It secured top spot in the group for the first time since 2016/16, and the 12th time overall.

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