Chelsea – Eintracht Frankfurt: The Blues Advance on Penalties (1-1; 4-3)
The Europa League semi-final clash between Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt was characterized by stalemate. Both Maurizio Sarri and Adi Hütter struggled to put their teams in the driver’s seat, forcing the tie to go down to penalties. Kepa Arrizabalaga held his nerve after Azpilicueta missed, allowing Eden Hazard to bury the winner and create an All-English affair in Europe.
Tactical analysis and match report by Om Arvind.
The tail-end of the footballing season is upon us, which means the return of big European nights and tense league clashes. Usually, this means Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Bayern Munich are the ones grabbing the highlights in these latter stages, with the “weaker” Spanish teams thriving in the Europa League. But, just this week, we were thrilled by epic Champions League comebacks from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, symbolizing the return of English dominance on the mainland.
The Europa League semi-finals between Arsenal and Valencia and Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt provided an opportunity to solidify this resurgence. But such thoughts were likely at the back of Maurizio Sarri’s mind as he prepared his team for the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals. He had much more pressing matters to concern himself with, such as his team selection.
Much-maligned for choosing the same eleven over and over again for the bigger part of the season, Sarri has finally acquiesced and begun to start younger fringe players. Against Eintracht Frankfurt, he placed Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield and Emerson at left back alongside his standard eleven.
Manager Adi Hütter largely maintained the same lineup that managed . . .