In modern day football with pacey wingers and magical attacking midfielders the defenses need more guarding than ever before. Every top club in Europe has got a defensive midfielder or players in the double pivot that shield the defense and provide that one pass which is an instant transition from defense to attack. Finding the right mix of players in the pivot is an art and Chelsea have had problems in the past when it came to that in the last couple of seasons.
Over the past two years Chelsea have tried various options but to no avail in order to give the right balance to our highly creative midfield. A weak pivot has let to defensive problems for Chelsea and conceding late goals became more of a habit.
Over a passage of time different options were tried in that role. Lampard was given a role to sit deep and help the defense out, something he wasn’t needed to do his entire career with players like Essien and Makelele doing that over the years for the Blues. Lampard today really doesn’t have the legs either to go ahead and score and come back and do his defensive duties. Mikel was asked to sit deep but his slow sideways passing dropped the tempo of the game, though he is still a very effective pivot player but he lacks the ability to move forward as he is very one dimensional.
Ramires has got the legs to go box to box, make tackles, make interceptions but his passing has let him down in that position. In all fairness Chelsea never really got the right balance in the pivot to be carefree with their attacking options.
Benitez last season looked towards David Luiz as a possible Defensive Midfielder, a defending with great passing ability. Someone who could spread the play and keep the tempo up and start the attack. It paid off for Chelsea as the Blues won the Europa League and secured the 3rd spot in the league as well.
With the arrival of Jose things once again took a turn and Chelsea went on and signed Marco Van Ginkel, a box to box midfielder in order to bolster the options in the pivot but his Chelsea career got off to a sorry start as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that took him out for atleast six months.
Jose persisted with Lampard, Ramires and Mikel and lately with Luiz to good effect but something was still missing. Jose decided to dig in the market and got back Matic for £21 million, a neat passer of the ball, good at interceptions and a great tackler. Just what a pivot player should be. Matic was on Chelsea’s radar for a while for his performances for Benfica in the Europa League last season this after he was sold to Benfica in a part exchange deal that saw David Luiz coming to Chelsea.
David Luiz who also played in the pivot last season makes for a good comparison. Luiz has got a better shot ratio but defensively Matic is a clear winner. Not only that, he has been a better passer and tackler of the ball which as i have already mentioned are his specialties.
Intercept the ball – Pass the ball – Track Back – Repeat!
Easier said than done as we have witnessed in the past but Matic is gifted in a way that he knows where he needs to be. His positioning is fantastic and is an excellent reader of the game. His task is simple, Intercept the ball and pass it to someone in advanced position starting an attack.
Matic is Chelsea’s closest prototype to Yaya Toure as a box to box midfielder and has tactical awareness having played in 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations in the past and will make an ideal partner for someone like Ramires who often misplaces his passes and leads himself into trouble.
Matic, an excellent tackler is also exceptional in the air and good at out muscling his opponents. A shield that would allow our team to attack as a unit. His abilities are not just restricted to defensive aspects but is also good going forward, his technique is impeccable and can score wonder goals as well. Not a bad option to have in just 21 million!
Matic vs Stoke:
His first full game for Chelsea was against Stoke at home and he showed us why Jose put his faith in him. With limited opportunities in training there was the odd misplaced pass but the composure and the energy Matic displayed over the 90 minutes would have really please Jose.
Matic game stats:
Tackles – 5, Interceptions – 3, Clearances – 4, Effective Clearances – 4, Pass Completion – 89%
A composed performance to say the least, yes it was Stoke and he is going to face teams that pose a bigger threat but looking at his performance it is really hard to imagine how he could have done better than this.
A late bloomer at 26, he is now back in the big league and is all set to prove his doubters wrong. Surely a mainstay in Jose’s Chelsea that relies on strong defensive displays and quick counters.