The defining Thomas Tuchel decisions that transformed Chelsea into European champions



It’s a little under 48 hours since Chelsea were crowned champions of Europe for the second time. For many a fan, that achievement still hasn’t quite sunk in.

Few could’ve predicted the Blues’ campaign would end with the biggest trophy in European football in possession once more.

That it has is largely down to a rather unpopular decision taken by the club’s hierarchy in late January.

That is, of course, the sacking of Frank Lampard. Those at the top of Chelsea would have known the fallout that was to come when the choice was taken to dispense with the club legend, its all-time leading goalscorer, and replace him with Thomas Tuchel.

Yet they pulled the trigger anyway.

“We are comfortable making the right changes at the right time to ensure we can achieve our long-term ambitions,” admitted Roman Abramovich regarding the Blues’ managerial turnover in a rare interview with Forbes in March.

The formation change

Tuchel made the decision to tear up Chelsea’s tactical playbook ahead of his first training session at Cobham. Out went the 4-3-3 system used under Lampard this season. In its place, a 3-4-2-1 was implemented.

It was a choice taken somewhat in haste but done down to necessity. “We decided on the plane over [from Paris] how we were going to play against Wolverhampton,” he told BT Sport in March.

“We decided to go with the back three so we could defend with five and have quick pressing against the five of Wolverhampton.”

That game ended in a 0-0 draw but the system that would guide Chelsea to Champions League success was set. There have been small tweaks and slight deviations along the way but the back three and wing-backs have always remained in place.

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