Tuchel brings up his half-century in style

It was a night that summed up Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel.

Ruthless in attack, dominant at the back. Our emphatic victory over Juventus couldn’t have been a better way to mark the boss’s 50th game in charge of the Blues.

We took control of the contest from the off, as has been the case in so many of Tuchel’s games. We suffocated the Italian side with our impressive ball retention and fluid movement, and deservedly took the lead through Trevoh Chalobah midway through the half.

Chalobah’s rise has been one of many Tuchel success stories. The 22-year-old said earlier this week he expected to go out on loan again this season, but after impressing Tuchel in pre-season he was given an opportunity in the Super Cup, grabbing the chance with both hands. He hasn’t looked back, and marked his maiden Champions League start with a vital opener against European heavyweights.

Hard to contain

That it was a defender who scored came as no surprise, for that has been another hallmark of Tuchel’s time in charge, especially this term. His Chelsea side contains threats all over the pitch.

And on the solitary occasion Juve threatened, shortly after Chalobah’s goal, it was the centre-back 15 years his senior to the rescue. Thiago Silva backtracked at speed and acrobatically cleared Alvaro Morata’s lob off the line, displaying the defensive awareness and resilience that has led to nine clean sheets in 12 Champions League games since Tuchel’s arrival.

He preference for a 3-4-3 shape has worked wonders, with the wing-backs particular beneficiaries. And so it came to pass again last night, as the in-form Reece James thundered in a special strike to double our lead. James’s progress this year has been a joy to watch.

Our relentlessness soon brought a third goal, set up by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, another renaissance man under Tuchel, and converted with aplomb by Callum Hudson-Odoi. There was even time for sub Timo Werner to make it 4-0, inflicting a heaviest-ever Champions League defeat on Juventus in the process.

Chelsea meanwhile racked up a ninth Champions League win of 2021. We have conceded just three goals in the competition this year, and faced the fewest shots per game, too (7.1).

Defensive dominance

Since the German arrived, no team in the Premier League has lost fewer games in all competitions than Chelsea (seven), and that is despite us having played the most games (50, of course). Only Man City have won more games.

The 24 goals we have conceded in his 50 games is the fewest by a distance. Brighton are next (34 conceded in 35 games) with Liverpool (39 in 41) and Man City (40 in 49) even further away. Even Jose Mourinho’s class of 2004/05, the Premier League’s defensive kings, cannot beat that total, having let in 27 goals in their first 50 games together.

The volume and consistency of the clean sheets we have accrued has been arguably the most impressive element of Tuchel’s regime. It is now 31 shutouts in 50 games, not only the most of any side in Europe in that time, but also the most for any Blues manager in their first 50 games (Mourinho recorded 30 in his first spell in charge).

When you factor in some of the huge games they have come in, and quality of opposition they have come against (the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League final against Man City spring to mind), it makes that tally all the more remarkable.

More to come

As Tuchel celebrated each goal with trademark touchline exuberance last night, the only blots on an otherwise perfect evening were injuries to N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell. But they can’t take the shine off Tuchel’s half-century of games in the Blues dugout: a team transformed, two European trophies, memories made and, on last night’s evidence, many more to come.

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