DANNY MURPHY: Thomas Tuchel prepared the PERFECT game plan to take Manchester City off the ground

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DANNY MURPHY: Thomas Tuchel has prepared the PERFECT game plan to take Manchester City off the ground … Chelsea’s performance has been monumental

  • Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup final with an impressive 1-0 against Manchester City
  • Thomas Tuchel’s side have ruled out Premier League champions completely
  • Pep Guardiola’s men could have tried for a week and still failed to score a goal

It’s hard to do justice to Chelsea’s defensive performance.

With any tactical plan, it’s easy to put it together on paper, but produce that level of focus, discipline, mental energy, communication, and fitness for 95 minutes against a quality team. Man City was magnificent.

It reminded me of how France held off against Belgium in the second half of their World Cup semi-final. It was monumental. It’s so rare to see a team create so few chances, especially Pep Guardiola’s.

Thomas Tuchel pulled off a tactical masterclass as Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup final

It was Thomas Tuchel’s perfect game plan. Chelsea’s three full-backs were superb in their experience, physique and positional play. And both midfielders covered every blade of grass. It was perhaps Jorginho’s best performance in a Chelsea shirt.

He and N’Golo Kante have just filled all those pockets of space that City loves to inhabit. They condensed the middle and didn’t lull into a false sense of security and turned to Rodri and Fernandinho.

The plan was to keep City ahead of them. Let them have the ball in front of them and beside them. They rarely let them fall behind. If they went up, that middle five of the three fullbacks and the waiting two moved as one.

The wingers fell when they needed it and suddenly the five became a seven. It was an impregnable blue wall.

N'Golo Kante took to the skies, harassing city players and making sure they weren't going anywhere

N’Golo Kante took to the skies, harassing city players and making sure they weren’t going anywhere

They canceled Kevin De Bruyne, one of the best passers in Europe. We haven’t seen him much because of City’s form and discipline.

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City could still be there next week and they would not have scored.

But it wasn’t just a defensive plan. The system allowed them to exploit City in attack. Because Chelsea were using full-backs, it meant Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech could get inside.

So when Chelsea won the ball, their wingers could push and draw City’s full-backs. Mount and Ziyech were tight, which would leave them and Timo Werner to outstrip City center-backs.

You have to give Tuchel some credit. I think I, along with many others, quietly hoped that it didn’t go so well for him so early to show Chelsea’s poor form earlier in the season was not due to Frank Lampard but to the players. Other than their performance at West Brom, they were superb.

Thomas Tuchel's instant success at Chelsea is due to the rapid implementation of a system

Thomas Tuchel’s instant success at Chelsea is due to the rapid implementation of a system

Les Bleus were aggressive all afternoon and didn't let Premier League leaders settle in

Les Bleus were aggressive all afternoon and didn’t let Premier League leaders settle in

Tuchel admitted to inheriting a great team but the team has progressed. They didn’t play amazingly smooth football but he nailed his system, they were super efficient and are now a strong bet for the FA Cup and the top four.

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I can relate it back to when Roy Hodgson came to Fulham and we were doomed. He came in and made a system. We worked on it every day. We have become hard to beat and confidence has grown. We saw it with Chelsea.

We’re a bit picky about City at times, especially if they don’t live up to their usual standards, but with the option of making five substitutions, I was amazed that Pep left Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva on the bench.

It’s a blow for City to see De Bruyne limp but I don’t think it will affect them too much in the Premier League and the League Cup. They have Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan who can play.

The big hit is if De Bruyne is out of the Champions League. Against a team like Paris Saint-Germain, you need your best available players.

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