Another final is upon us this evening and here we take a look at the tactical decisions and choices that boss Thomas Tuchel will have to make ahead of kick-off in Abu Dhabi.
Chelsea have had a day fewer than Palmeiras to recover ahead of tournament finale but the strength of the Londoners’ squad and the luxury of five substitutions allows Thomas Tuchel to freshen things up on Saturday if necessary.
The Bavarian, who still hopes to return a negative Covid test in time to join his players in the sunshine of Abu Dhabi, could become the third coach from his nation to claim this international prize.
The Champions League winners dominated Wednesday’s semi-final from the start against Asia representatives Al Hilal. The Saudi side staged a late rally requiring a pair of excellent saves from keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Blues might have been keeping something in reserve for the final, but have lost momentum in several recent outings. Tuchel’s assistant Zsolt Low said he hopes the team play ‘a little bit freer in the final with a better rhythm.’
With Mateo Kovacic (a Club World Cup-winner with Real Madrid in 2016) dominating midfield, the swagger was back in Hakim Ziyech’s play, Kai Havertz looked closer to his raiding best, and Romelu Lukaku was back among the goals with the decisive strike. The Belgian is now our joint leading scorer with nine on all fronts alongside Jorginho.
After this game the Londoners have a free week for recovery before the trip to Crystal Palace, so Tuchel may stick largely to the same personnel and formation, though fewer errors in possession will be vital against the Brazilians, who are menacing on the counter.
Although Edou Mendy has trained for a few days following his AFCON success, Kepa may retain the gloves, especially with his prowess in penalty shoot-outs.
Chelsea will aim to exploit the average height discrepancy between the two finalists. The Brazilians measured up two inches shorter than the Blues in the midweek matches, with both full-backs, central midfielders, and four forwards around 5ft 7in tall.
Source: The 5th StandApp.
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