The match was intense and with fans in the stadium, the match was more lively. Chelsea went on to win on penalties after 120 minutes of exhausting, back and forth football. Let us look at one of the key players who played an important role in this win, Marcos Alonso.
Chelsea start with Marcos Alonso
Chelsea had to rest some of their regular starters as they returned after vacations. Tuchel decided to go with 3-4-3, formation he has been using since he arrived. On the left side Marcos Alonso was given the nod ahead of Emerson and Ben Chilwell who hasn’t played since returning from international duty.
At the back it was the trio of Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Trevoh Chalobah. With Callum Hudson Odoi and Alonso as full-backs alongside Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante in midfield. Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner started the game up front for the Blues. The front three kept rotating and interchanging their position. allowing the full-backs to run forward and help in attack.
Alonso’s form caught the attention of fans in the European curtain raiser however. Whenever Villarreal attacked few things were worth noticing on how Chelsea setup in those moments. The front three of Havertz, Werner and Ziyech pressed the defense of Villarreal together. This resulted in spaces being open on the right hand side behind Ziyech, which was at times the focal point of attack for Villarreal.
As Villarreal attacked, Havertz and Timo Werner were the two players furthest forward. Ziyech was a bit deeper to collect the ball and launch a counter attack. On the left side it was Marcos Alonso that shifted towards the centre letting the duo of Kovacic and Rudiger cover the left back and centre back position. The positioning of Marcos Alonso allowed him to at times play the ball over to Havertz or Werner who made runs behind the defense.
It was one such occasion that led to Chelsea open the scoring in the Super Cup. A Villarreal attack was blocked and ball came to Marcos Alonso who saw Foyth out of his position and Havertz making a run behind him. Alonso without wasting time played a defense splitting lobbed pass to Havertz on the left side of the field.
Havertz saw the space behind Foyth and latched onto the ball played by Alonso, carrying the ball to the left side of the box and played in a perfect ball into the box for Ziyech to finish it. In under 15 minutes Chelsea were in the lead against Villarreal. Marcos Alonso played a major role in setting up Havertz who assisted the goal.
Marcos Alonso positional play
Alonso’s positional play was something to notice. Generally in 3-4-3 formation Tuchel uses full-backs continuously overlap but in the Super Cup we saw that less from Alonso while Hudson Odoi continued to overlap on the right. This meant Kai Havertz and Timo Werner had much more work in attacking areas and defensively.
Marcos Alonso at times shifted into much more of a central area while defending, allowing a wider area to play the ball and launch a counter attack. Havertz and Werner upfront, Ziyech and Hudson Odoi from the right. This allowed a faster transition from defense to attack.
In the second half that changed a bit as Villarreal started to press Chelsea higher and not allowing them time on the ball. They increased the number of bodies in midfield, allowing them to find gaps between the midfield and defense. This did not allow Alonso to push forward while Chelsea were on back foot. He had much more defending to do in the second.
Against Crystal Palace it is fair to say that Alonso didn’t have that much defending to do. As Chelsea controlled the game his role was to help orchestrate attacks on the left hand side, his position map will show that. This brings plenty of food for thought for Chilwell who saw Alonso get the immediate nod from Thomas Tuchel last season.
Chilwell’s lack of match practice over the summer is not down to his own decisions, Gareth Southagate’s choice to pick Luke Shaw is perfectly acceptable and largely justified with his team’s performance at Euro 2020. However, Chilwell will once again have to prove himself to Tuchel, who evidently trusts the Englishman after being backed for the end of season Champions League showdown with Manchester City in Porto.
If anything, Alonso’s fast start to the season is further proof that Chelsea’s large squad is as deep as it looks and that competition for places is going to be extremely hard. If the Spaniard’s early season form can push Chilwell to progress even more this season then all parties will benefit and Chelsea will be in a position to freely rotate at left wingback.
Written by Suryansh Somvanshi and Tom Coley (@suryanshsomvans)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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