WFC: Could Chelsea play without a Drogba replacement?
You think goals, you think strikers. Center forward is arguably the most glamorous and high-profile position in soccer.
So it should come as no surprise that the biggest story revolving around Chelsea during the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge centers around how the club will replace Didier Drogba’s colossal contributions up front last season which helped them become European and FA Cup champions.
But what if Chelsea opted to completely forego a striker and go the route of Euro 2012 champions Spain? Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo watched the Spaniards tactics with a keen eye this summer.
“It shows that there isn’t just one system you can be successful with,” the Chelsea boss said. “It was interesting to see them play without strikers. I don’t think we’ve seen that many times before, something like this. It’s worked for them and they have so many outstanding midfield players, the rotation and the mobility they have in midfield, the changing of positions they have as well.”
Di Matteo made it clear that he has no intention of conducting his own strikerless experiment, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chelsea playing a little more like Spain going forward given the way his summer shopping has gone.
Eden Hazard has arrived from Lille for a reported $50 million, Marko Marin from Werder Bremen for a rumored $11 million and reports from Britain suggest that another couple of pacy, technical attacking midfielders could soon join them.
Hazard and Marin were both impressive and scored on their debut as Chelsea beat Seattle Sounders 4-2 on Wednesday in the Herbalife World Football Challenge 2012 opener. All eyes will again be on the newcomers when they face potential UEFA Champions League foes Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer).
Chelsea favor a 4-2-3-1 formation, but with so many exciting creative talents – not least Spain’s Juan Mata who will feature for the Spanish Olympic team – Chelsea would seem to have the elements to operate without a direct replacement for Drogba, so long the team’s focal point.
“If you have a target man you can play with a target man. If you don’t, you will have to find other solutions to create chances,” Di Matteo said. “I think the players we’ve signed so far are creative, technical, good players, so something maybe we didn’t have too many of last season. So I’m very happy that we have more options now.”