Chelsea’s head coach Thomas Tuchel has credited his assistant for the tactical adjustment that proved crucial in the Blues’ narrow 1-0 Champions League victory over Malmö on Tuesday night.
The visitors struggled to break down the Swedish champions in the first half and only mustered a clear chance when Kai Havertz drove through on goal, but his weak attempt was stifled by Johan Dahlin.
Tuchel had started with Hakim Ziyech as right forward behind Havertz, with Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left. Breddmännen changed flanks at half time and would merge to the winning goal ten minutes later.
Hudson-Odoi played a sweet one-two with Havertz before running down to the right and playing an inch-perfect cross for Ziyech to get into the gaping net.
After the match, Chelsea boss Tuchel revealed that his assistant, Zsolt Low, had been the mastermind behind the tactical adjustment.
“All credit must go to my assistant, he came up with the idea,” he said at his post-match press conference. “We liked to have two right-footed on the right side and two left-footed on the left side. We had a feeling that we might get into the spaces behind Malmö’s low blocks that we might lose important seconds if they have to switch the ball back to their strong foot, then closed their number eight spaces.
“We thought we might be able to save important tenths of a second, the situation was like this [for the goal].
“We had a breakthrough in the half and he delivered accurately enough. The credit goes to my assistant.”
Asked about Ziyech’s contribution and whether this achievement could serve as a springboard, Tuchel added: “Yes, but I still think there is room for improvement in his decision-making, contacts on the pitch, where one can be more consistent.
“We always rely on his pace of work, counter-pressure, awareness. That’s a big part of his performance. He can still be more clinical and maybe grow more into the rhythm but I think his shoulder injury hurt him a lot.
“Even though he pressed hard to come back early, he is still not 100 percent free as he should be, especially the offensive players love their freedom to swing but I’m glad that if things get stuck a goal like this will help most “I’m happy for him.”
Chelsea stay second with the victory in Sweden and will receive already qualified Juventus next time in Group H in the Champions League when they look to take the top spot from the Serie A giants.