Chelsea FC: Three Things That Mourinho Does During Bigger Tests That Has Made Him The Master Tactician

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Jose Mourinho’s Big-game Modes: How He Tweaks And Shifts

Is he dull and defensive? Is he the serial pragmatist? The answers will follow maybe long after the man retires, but it remains in the backseat for now. Jose Mourinho’s appetite for winning games is clearly on a different pedestal; he remains the bonafide big-game man. How often have we seen Jose outwitted by an opposition number? Such instances are countable on the fingers, such is the Portuguese’s success rate in big matches.

But how does he manage it? Has he still got fuel in the tank? He has gone through myriad changes ever since he first stepped up for the top job. A fair few evolutions and revolutions later, his hunger remains intact, albeit with tweaks and changes. Analyzing his tactics for the bigger tests is a challenge; you can be assured of unpredictability with the canny Jose, and he seldom disappoints. Chelsea face a few cup finals in the season’s final third; they are playing catch-up in the league and the Champions League and they would need Mourinho to be at his elements as the chequered flag becomes more and more visible.

Too much has been made of his tendency to win at all costs; that’s fair enough when losing costs your job these days. Here we tactically analyze how Mourinho sets his team up for the bigger tests, and why Chelsea have every chance of turning around their deficit against PSG.

1. A DEFENSE THAT SITS DEEPER THAN A WELL

Mourinho’s teams are modern football’s anomalies. Incredibly successful teams tend to play on the frontfoot, even against stronger opponents. But one thing Mourinho is particularly good at is his ability to defensively outsmart opposition. Here’s a trivia to blow your minds off: Jose Mourinho’s teams conceded the least number of goals in a league season ever since he joined Porto and the record stayed on up until his time at Real Madrid. Chelsea, too, have the best defensive record this season. The reason for this? A risk-free strategy of a deep defense. John Terry’s advancing years and Gary Cahill’s lumbering approach means that there is lesser scope for a higher line of defense. And Chelsea have been incredibly good at defending set-pieces, a vital aspect that makes them so sound with a deep defense.

2. HOLDING MIDFIELDERS AND TRICKY WINGERS

Chelsea haven’t lost any of the games against their rivals this season. Their worst return from the present top five is a loss away at Everton. And a recurring theme was seen in each of their games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. Chelsea started with two holding midfielders in all of the above games; and he has been particularly keen on David Luiz for these games as he is primarily a defender who likes to dart forward irresponsibly.

And Nemanja Matic has been doing what Frank Lampard is failing to do: breaking plays and counter-attacking. Even at Real Madrid, Mourinho used to counter-attack at pace and the same goes at Chelsea. Although his current roster is a rung or two below Ronaldo and co, but they have shown how devastating they could be. Eden Hazard, Willian, Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah revel in quick transitions and hurting opponents on the break. That is one reason enough why he deemed the more eye-of-the-needle Juan Mata surplus to requirements.

3. FALSE NINES AND INEPT FORWARDS

Mourinho’s tinkering with false nines have had mixed results; the latest setback being the 3-1 reverse at the Parc des Princes to PSG. The thing with false nines is that you always have an extra man to form passing triangles and one-twos, but the downside here is that as the intricacies go on, the man in the box goes missing. The opposition defense has a lot of head-scratching to do, but still they enjoy the comfort of not having to mark anyone specific.

One reason for Mourinho’s use of Schurrle as a false nine in big away games is the mysterious inability of his forwards to score. Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o would have cost a combined 100 million in their halcyon days, but their advancing years mean that they no longer remain potent as before. But results have shown why Mourinho shouldn’t prefer the false nine, even if it gives him an extra man in between the lines.

Dinesh V @dineshintwit

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7 Follow @dineshintwit

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