When Chelsea turned to former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard back in January, few would have predicted just how big an impact the German would have.
Initially tasked with trying to salvage the Blues’ season and lead them to a top-four finish from tenth in the table, it appeared as though Tuchel would have his work cut out in an attempt to achieve the target set.
The players were short on confidence and were in serious need of a pick-me-up following a dismal ending to Frank Lampard’s time in charge at Stamford Bridge.
What followed was nothing short of sensational.
Tuchel immediately wiped the slate clean for everyone, allowing those who had not figured under Lampard to stake a claim for a place.
The German wasted little time in putting his own plans into practice, immediately installing a 3-4-2-1 formation in an attempt to make the Blues a lot more solid at the back, enabling them to be more adventurous in the final third without leaving gaps. Although one or two bumps in the road have been encountered during Tuchel’s tenure so far, his impact has been there for everyone to see.
Time and time again the former PSG boss has nailed his tactical approach to perfection, so much so that he even guided the Blues to three wins from three against Manchester City in the space of just six weeks, including the historic UEFA Champions League triumph in Porto almost two weeks ago.
Ahead of the trip to Portugal, Tuchel’s tactical approach and ability to modify his tactics for when going up against different opponents was hailed by City boss Pep Guardiola, who, at the time of speaking, was hoping to avoid another defeat at the hands of his latest managerial rival in the Premier League.
“Why Chelsea play so good… because they have three central defenders close, the two holding midfielders who move in relation are close, the pockets are close, the striker and the two [others in attack] are so, so close,” Guardiola told BT Sport ahead of the Champions League final.
“The distances are so close, and at the same time they are so wide with the wing backs, they are so good with the ball in behind.
“That’s why you cannot be close because they push you [out wide] and they have a lot of good players in the middle. That’s why it’s difficult to face teams who want the ball and want to play with the ball.
“We’ve tried to do it since day one.”
Assessing Tuchel’s overall impact at Stamford Bridge, Guardiola added: “I think it’s massive.
“I saw the first game he had against Wolves, it was a draw but I saw already some routines, some mental processes when I faced them in Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.
“I knew he would do it quick and good here at Chelsea.”
Guardiola is not the only high profile name to have waxed lyrical about the tactical nous Tuchel has shown at Stamford Bridge, with PSG and France striker Kylian Mbappe also singing the praises of the German’s tactical ability.
Mbappe, of course, knows all about how Tuchel ticks having worked under him in the French capital.
“He’s fantastic tactically,” Mbappe told BILD. “He knows exactly how opponents will behave and can predict matches very accurately.”
With Guardiola, who is, arguably, one of the greatest managers of all-time, and Mbappe, one of the greatest players on the planet, in complete agreement about Tuchel’s tactical work, it shows just how talented the former Dortmund chief is in that department.
Time and time again Tuchel has shown he can set his team up in such a way that can stifle the opposition and make them pay at the other end of the pitch.
If he continues to play his cards right, nailing his tactical approach to matches, the Blues could enjoy yet even more success next season.