FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiFriday, April 11, 2014
cyril.nwokeji@wol.be
Belgium

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CHELSEA 2 PSG 0: WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE?

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eethinks Jose Mourinho did. Over the two legs, Chelsea were not really better than PSG ; but are in the semi-finals, thanks to the tactical ingenuity of Coach Mourinho! What did he exactly do? For those folks that watched the return leg match, in London, you would have noticed, Chelsea had a lot of difficulties breaking down the PSG wall of defence ; coupled with the fact that Chelsea, were not better " football wise ," all contributed to the creation of few chances, by Chelsea during the match. However, the opportunistic goal scored by Schurler, in first half, gave Chelsea what hope.

In the second half, the frustration in the Chelsea camp only grew, when as the clock ticked away, Chelsea ,couldn't score the much needed second goal. It was then Coach Mourinho unleashed his tactical ingenuity on the Chelsea game ; by replacing Frank Lampard and Oscar - two offensive mid-fielders - with two central strikers, in Demba Ba and Fernando Torres. At first sight, one wonderd what had become of Jose Mourinho, with his substitution of his offensive mid-fielders, with central strikers ? One thought Chelsea 's mid-field would collapse as a consequence ; but it didn't. And why not? Coach Mourinho, merely redefined Chelsea's 4-3-3 pattern of play, by asking the wingers - Willen and Schurle - to take up extra responsibilities as mid-fielders, in addition to their original roles as wingers. This ensured Chelsea's mid-field, didn't collapse, thereby continuing to put on the pressure on the PSG and at the same time, Coach Mourinho, gave more trouble to the recalcitrant PSG defence, by putting them under pressure with three central strikers in the persons of - Eto'o ; Torres and Ba . It was not surprising, that as a consequence, the stuggy PSG defence finally caved in, for Demba Ba, to score the very very very very "golden," second goal. Agreed, like in all human endeavours, some element of good luck, played a role ; but they say that heaven helps those who help themselves. Coach Jose Mourinho, by unleashing his tactical ingenuity, by remodifying Chelsea's pattern of play, thereby, unleashing three central strikers on the stuggy PSG defence, not only forsaw the opportunism that resulted in Chelsea's second goal ,but actually worked for it! It was indeed a highly modified 4-3-3 formation of soccer that made the difference! Coach Laurent Blanc of PSG, no doubt bowed to the tactical superiority of Coach Jose Mourinho ; who in my candid opinion, is the best coach in the world! I hope the Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, is taking note!

Coach Jose Mourinho, has thus far gotten the very best out of a very average Chelsea team - average by Chelsea's standards. He used intelligent direct soccer to neuralise PSG's fine soccer playing team. I would't be surprised if Chelsea go all the way!

The main lesson to be learnt here, is that soccer, has now become a coach's game. Gone are the days, when teams did well through some accidental happenstance . Nowadays, only good coaches succeed with their teams . Soccer has become a science of sorts! This should be a lesson to our soccer authorities, when it comes to appointing coaches ,for our national teams . I believe the reason Nigeria, considering her immense supply of talent, has only won the African Nations' cup tournament three times, and with very long time intervals between victories for that matter, is due to the sometimes awkward decision of the NFF, in appointing second rate coaches, for the Super Eagles. The match between Chelsea and PSG, has further shown clearly, that a good coach can raise a very average side to a much higher level than expected ; while a bad coach, can ruin a good side. NFF please take note !

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