Conte's Chelsea: Game 1

Team characteristics

  • Collective focus.
  • Strict and rigid passing patterns.
  • Many diagonal passes.
  • Both short ground, long ground passes.
  • Both long vertical and long diagonal passes over the top.
  • Rigid positional structure.
  • Wide spacing.
  • More aggressive and direct in possession.
  • Narrow, deep and closed 4v4 block initially.
  • Not collective pressing yet.
  • Collective pressing increased in second half.
  • Central midfielders need to cover a lot of space and need a diverse range of qualities.
  • Crosses into the box is what they used most to create.
  • Few balls lost in areas of concern or where the team had the capacity to counter press (only the individual mistake by Ivanovic which is just an error).  
  • The players brought on during the second half were more mobile - perhaps a coincidence or something he wants to do during the season.  
  • Zonal defensive free kicks.
  • Man-to-man marking at defensive corners, with two in front of the first post and spare players zonal.

With the ball

  • Short building from the ‘keeper.
  • Fullbacks are higher than the central midfielders, while the two central midfielders are narrow and the central defenders are wide.
  • Long balls up to Costa in transitions - lost the headers.
  • Long diagonals to the wingers from the central defenders and central midfielders.
  • More forward passing via central defenders than before.
  • Supporting fullbacks - staying behind the wingers.
  • The wingers stay wide and high (on the last line) where they then have 2 strikers against 2 cb’s.
  • Central midfielders deep to pull the opposition midfielders towards them (making space for 2v2 centrally).
  • 1st time balls from ball near wingers to the feet of the strikers inside.
  • Wide dynamics: Costa running behind fullback on Willian’s side, otherwise they rely on Willian individually or coming inside to collect from the central defenders, then dribbling diagonally forward. On the left (2nd half) Moses would come deep and inside to collect from Aina, while the ball near striker would also move to the inside striker position to collect the ball to feet. Upon the pass to the striker Moses comes inside to receive from him facing play and moving diagonally inside.
  • Group movements from the striker's - ball near striker comes deep to receive to feet (with opposition central defender following him tightly) before bouncing the ball back. Upon this the ball far striker is on the last line and curves run to the open space and attacks the open depth upon the long ball over the top. The deep striker will also make an arched run behind in order to support.
  • Oscar acted more as a 10 in the second half and was receiving the ball in high midfield. This resulted in more individual play in possession. He then switched to play as a central midfielder, which is more suited to his qualities in this system.
  • Willian carrying ball at speed (centrally) and dribbling past players during counters.
  • Wide players receive from long diagonals and are aggressive, trying to attack immediately. Moses was very influential as he would move both inside and outside when dribbling at the fullback, allowing him to beat both fullback and wide player supporting him. He would then play early crosses in when reaching the box, while Willian would join the box from the other side.
  • With Willian he would use a different style in his dribbling (changing rhythm more drastically from accelerate-stop-accelerate - Moses would keep running with the ball and change rhythm after scoop turns, accelerate-decelerate-accelerate), where he would look to stop the defender by holding the ball on the side of the box before quickly going back down the line and playing a cross in from the byline on various occasions. He would also do this when he would receive the ball in crossing positions, like after a corner. These crosses (from both) were mostly fired across goal.
  • They would also use Willian to take corners on the right and Moses to take corners on the left - perhaps to save the energy of running wing-to-wing-to-wing.
  • After Chalobah was on for Mikel, he would receive the ball and turn with it to move out of pressure from the opposition and then have the ball facing play. This enabled the team to have more variations and new situations with the ball - Mikel having a very limited game with the ball.


  • Started with a deep, narrow low block of 4402.
  • Costa pressing a lot and covering a lot of distance with no support.
  • Pressing became more collective halfway through the first half with Matic moving up and the defensive line being pushed up by Conte’s signals.
  • The defenders now have to defend large patches compared to small patches in the box, as seen previously.
  • Fullbacks have to pressure high with the rest of the backline moving across to cover.
  • High pressing on the central defenders with the midfield 2 and wingers moving up onto the opposition central midfielders and fullbacks.
  • The wingers cover the whole line and get back very deep, even deeper than central midfielders.
  • Issues when counter attacking from deep block, with no efficient target man or player to hold the ball, along with team in a tight, deep and closed block.
  • Some tracking and following of midfield runners from central midfielders, while the higher pressure of central midfield players would often be an individual action and lead to easy exposure and progression for the opponent.
  • Papy pressing very high up the left wing.

I assume the next movements will to have more collective and higher pressing, along with being higher up in order to be able to have collective access to the ball and the options around the ball. They will then have different platforms - which were not seen in this game - to counter attack from and it will be interesting to see what the approach to attacking in these situations will be. They will also want an improvement in their possession game to be able sustain a better control of the game, the field territory, the block of the opponent and the increase in counter pressing opportunities when possession is lost to either delay or regain possession when the ball is lost. Also the movements and the execution of the 1st time central passes from wingers to strikers needs work.