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Kovačić, Chelsea Cruising Under New Manager Tuchel

February 16, 2021



Can we blame Frank Lampard for Kovačić’s slow start to the season? We sure can!



Mateo Kovačić came to life Monday night in London as Chelsea defeated Newcastle United 2-0 to move back into fourth position on the Premiership table. Many football websites had Kova as ‘Man of the Match’ as he “Saw more of the ball than any other Chelsea player and barely put a foot wrong. Tidy in his distribution and not afraid to take a few risks to unlock a compact Newcastle team.”



His only critique was a one-timer he put over the bar in the second half that could have easily been on frame for a possible goal. Chelsea are an undefeated 5-0-1 (in all competitions) under Thomas Tuchel since Lampard was sacked on January 25th. Chelsea are rolling in the Premiership and will face their greatest test of the season when they face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 next week.



I’ve been tough on Kovačić; and with good reason. It’s fantastic that he had a solid game against Newcastle, but I need him to string 5-6 of these performances together leading into the final stretch of the season and Euro 2021. If he can control the Chelsea midfield like he’s been doing, he will be in good shape.





Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 37 comments

  1. CultOfLuna says:

    Great display from Kova yesterday, I would love to see him thrive in the 4-1-2-1-2 used against France!

    Or something along those lines, I always had a soft spot for this kind of diamond formation 🙂

    Btw, did you guys see the small buzz around Martin Erlić?
    He’s been under the radar until he shut down Ibrahimovic for Spezia. Could be interesting to see how he develops!

  2. Soul Champ says:

    I love him,” Tuchel told reporters after the match. “You can wake him up at 3 a.m. and he will be ready to train at Cobham at 3:15.”

    Few would have predicted that Kovacic would be the story of Tuchel’s first month at Chelsea. But he’s making himself the story, in the best possible way.

    Kovačić will be the X factor against Athletico Madrid.

    He knows how to play against that tough midfield from years at Real Madrid. Modrić will be giving him pointers.

    Tuchel’s Chelsea have a real shot at Athletico Madrid in Budapest.

    Man could you imagine if Kovačić bangs in a decisive goal?

    That could shift his whole narrative.

    Dr. Jozak, and now Tuchel seem to believe in him.

    At 26, Kovačić is heading into his prime, starting for a champions league club.

    At 35, Modrić still st the peak of his powers.

    Kovačić has at least 8 more years.

    Brozovic – Kovačić – Vlašić

    Any better in the world in 2023?

  3. Medo says:

    The Chelsea fan boys keep harping about his lack of a shot.
    If he could ever learn to shoot he would be lethal.
    Maybe he turns it around like Luka.
    Modric pops in a few bombs every year now and his early years he wouldn’t even attempt to shoot.
    I recall his first shocker of a cannon was against MAN U maybe 4 years ago.
    Let’s hope Mateo finds the same shooting prowess soon.

  4. Markus says:

    Why not Bradaric at LB? Sosa is better on form right now but I would say that Bradaric is the younger and better player. Gvardiol should be slotted in for Vida too. Also I like how u put Perisic and Rebic a bit behind Krama to not leave him isolated. I could see a formation like that working, maybe Dalic tries it in the qualifiers.

  5. CultOfLuna says:

    As I live in France I follow closely the Ligue 1, and Bradaric has been replaced by Reinildo for quite a few matches now. But for sure I liked what I saw in his last NT appearances.

    I have watched Gvardiol tearing it up with Dinamo on the European scene, and I currently think he is way superior to Bradaric in every sense (he could totally replace Vida, but I’m less convinced by his concentration and focus at a crucial position for 90mins).
    His most important strenghts are his attitude (always playing forward and play to win), and his physical shape. The kid is a beast and a natural born winner, I’ve rarely been that impressed with a young player. He is already able to add value to the NT from my point of view.

    Concerning Sosa, in this kind of formation you want high pressing/high intensity wingbacks, and Sosa brings that. I guess I would put Bradaric on the same level as Sosa, but maybe I just want to see new players 🙂

    I would love to see this formation again as it suits perfectly the complete palette of qualities that we have in midfield (all of these players are versatile and tactically great). Vlasic can basically play anywhere up in attack, and so does Kramaric/Perisic. I am a little bit tired of the endless 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 but hey this is just me!

  6. Eric says:

    Kovacic has played well in every game since Tuchel took charge. This may be the moment we have all been waiting for! Even if Kova doesn’t take a single shot on target, he is still their best player. However, if he learns to “fire a cannon” like Luka every now and then, he would be lethal.

  7. Eric says:

    On another topic, I read that Mandzukic will be starting in Belgrade…perfect timing for a comeback Mario!

  8. BEĆAR says:

    Here’s a perspective of Kovacic that I share. Lampard never really liked him.

  9. Markus says:

    How come Bradaric hasn’t been starting as much recently? Are his performances declining? Also you’re very right about the high intensity so maybe Sosa would have a better impact there. Gvardiol is so good he should be starting CB… we can let Bradaric and Sosa battle it out for LB.
    I am also very tired with the constant “Dalic formations”. He should mix his tactics up a bit. We have enough quality to deal with some changes.

  10. I’m the biggest supporter of calling up younger players, but right now Bradaric is barely starting half of the games at club level. I think he will likely be our starter in the future, but I’ll be somewhat surprised if Barisic is dropped before the Euros. Sure, Barisic plays in the Scottish league, but he is one of the best players on the best team. Are Bradaric, Sosa, and maybe even Gvardiol better than Barisic? Maybe so. But I don’t expect Dalic to make sweeping changes until after the Euros. Will it be too late for him then if we don’t perform? It just might be. But we’ve seen our managers time and time again wait too long to get rid of the old guard.
    We’ll see what Dalic is thinking in these March qualifiers. But to be honest, with the U21 Euro group stage happening at the same time don’t be surprised if none of the players eligible for that are called up for the main team. Even Brekalo is able to play for the U21s in this tournament. So I won’t at all be shocked if none of Brekalo, Bradaric, Sosa, Gvardiol, etc. get called up to the main team as I think they will want to at least try to compete in the U21 tournament. Especially since we’re only playing against one decent team in this March qualifiers (Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta).
    As for whether they will get a chance at making the Euros squad, I think that will also depend on the U21 Euros. They are definitely not going to prioritize the U21 Euros over the main team Euros, but if the U21s do happen to get out of the group stage, the final is on June 6th. So before the Euros begin for the main team. Some players could theoretically play in both, but I don’t think many players from any country will honestly. I think one of Sosa or Bradaric will make the Euros squad the other will play for the U21s. Gvardiol, Majer, and any other top performers, I think will likely have to wait until after the Euros to be called up to the main team. Of course I’m no expert and Dalic knows the players better than any of us do so we will just have to see what he does next month. This is likely what our lineup is going to be against Slovenia barring any injuries/illnesses.
    Kramaric, Perisic, Rebic, Vlasic, Modric, Brozovic, Barisic, Caleta-Car, Lovren/Vida, Vrsaljko, Livakovic
    Yes it’s boring, and probably not the exact lineup I would go for, but it’s what I think will probably be the lineup.

  11. Markus says:

    You are probably right. That is the most realistic case. I’d really love to see Gvardiol at the Euros though and I do think he’s already better than Barisic. But realistically, Barišić is probably our starter for the euros (or maybe Melnjak 😳)

  12. Dannyj says:

    I got to watch Dinamo tomorrow
    I have sadly not seen Gvardiol play except clips
    The way he is talked about he has real potential to be world class and not just hype train

    Him and Ćaleta on the back would be cool to see

    I’d still rather see vida most days over Lovren if we have to keep one

  13. Rafael says:

    Once Kovacic figures out the offensive aspect. ((More, Shots Goals and Assists)) he will actually be a world class player. He is more of a Boban type than Modric. He likes to feint and dribble more than Luka who is more of a possession connector. Don’t get me wrong, Luka can dribble but Luka’s game is more quick linking pass and short dribbles. Kova has the Robbie/Boban dribbling ability of longer dribbles and one v ones. Croatian Midfielders really are in their prime as they move closer to 30.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Where’s the Croat Gooner? CFC!

  15. Poglavnik says:

    Wishing you nothing but the worst 😉

  16. Poglavnik says:

    I watched that Barnsley/Chelski match and couldnt believe how deep Chelsea were being pressed and how they eventually got through it. Not sure if that type of counter is a Tuchel trademark but skipping through a high press suits Kova well.

  17. Dannyj says:

    All hope is not lost with Kova
    He did score two goals against Portugal
    And had scoring touch with inter

    It’s not like he can’t
    But ya it’s wild we don’t really having scoring midfielders

    Sucic Maybe will break that
    Of course there vlasic but I don’t know what he really is position wise

  18. Dannyj says:

    How would you guys line up our midfield if euro started today?

  19. crnkovic says:

    Livakovic; Bradaric, Caleta-car, lovren/vida, Vrsaljko; modric, brozovic, kovacic; Vlasic, perisic, rebic

  20. crnkovic says:

    unfortunately petkovic has declined, kramaric i havent seen be a big player for us(apart from against ukraine), brekalo is not quite there yet. so yeah fluid formation all the midfield and attack have license to interchange and move into space. special shout to orsic, i think he needs big minutes. he is a really dangerous player. underrated

  21. crnkovic says:

    Gvardiol. huge talent i think after euros he will be first choice. maybe a bit early still for him. defence is a bit different to midfield or attack, you need a bit more experience

  22. Soul Champ says:

    Thank you Farca for choosing your Catalans over Rakitic.

    Another big match beat down.


    There are like $500 million worth of transfer scrubs who are on the roster.

    I am happy for Rakitic.

    At least Sevilla love and respect him.

  23. crnkovic says:

    yeah, happy for raketa. Great move back to Sevilla, a club that loves him and home town for his family there. Couldn’t be better. He may end up managing Sevilla and one day the NT

  24. Maminjo says:

    Barišić isn’t a bad player, but he’s not really a talented one.
    Domagoj Bradarić may not be starting lately for Lille, but he is infinitely more talented than Barišić in his dribbling ability, passing, crosses, etc.
    These are the types of talented players we must start if we have them available (especially if they’ve shown they can do it at NT level).
    Barišić is no more than a stop gap role player. Good enough to play, but should be your worst starter.
    If you have too many Barišić-types in your starting lineup, then you risk fielding an untalented squad. One weak link, maybe you can get away with…But not several.
    Barišić, Vida, and Lovren are all stop gap role players right now. Livaković, no doubt, is a weak link too.
    It’s a travesty to have talent like Gvardiol, Bradarić and possibly even Sosa sitting on the bench while we do our patented “let’s give the declining vets one more run… Oops, we probably shoulda played the better player”.
    If more than one or two of these guys above start for us at the Euros, we won’t go far.

  25. Z says:

    Nikola Tavares has really progressed well hasn’t he?

  26. Maminjo says:

    Livaković alone will hurt us dearly I think.
    He may not screw up with a gaffe, but you can tell that the defenders are not confident in his ability. It screws things up for our back four having to overcompensate for our poor goalkeeping.
    Add to this, another gaffe-machine in Lovren… Then an LB in Barišić (who has no LB skills)… You’re not gonna go far. It will result in Brozović having to play CB, and Perišić coming all the way back on that left side.
    This will hurt our offense possibly more than our defense.

  27. CroatianPerson85 says:

    Nice goal by Raketic. I feel like Mandza will score vs Red Star.

  28. CroatianPerson85 says:


  29. Lovro says:

    Don’t know why Gvardiol is on loan from Leipzig because their defenders made two absolutely horrible mistakes today against Liverpool.

    He should return shortly.

  30. Maminjo says:

    Yea, Leipzig actually tried to cancel the loan last month, so they could get Gvardiol sooner. But I’m guessing Dinamo wanted to keep him for the full season, as per their original loan agreement.

  31. Razbijač says:

    Sosa would be a great option at LB. He’s been playing LWB for Stuttgart and is having a great season. I think he better than Barisic, and Sosa should be given the nod over Bradaric (Reinildo is starting in place of him at Lille).

  32. Maminjo says:

    Yea, Sosa and Bradaric gotta be played for these qualifiers.
    Barisic and Melnjak we’ve seen enough of, and know what they can do. They can be called up, but remain on the bench.

  33. ARMADA87 says:

    With GK, Livakovic is our ‘best choice’ at the moment, no? That doesn’t mean he’s some all-world keeper – but to others points, I guess he is a stop gap for this tournament. Not sure anyone else feels Sluga or Grbic to be ready or talented enough to be our #1? I haven’t watched too much from Kalinic since his Hajduk return, but he bungled his chance to take the reigns from Subasic a few years ago, does he derserve another shot? I don’t know…

  34. Markus says:

    Nah nah nah, Kalinic shouldn’t be in our NT. At most a 3rd choice. Grbic should be played against Malta or Cyprus (if he seems good, which will be hard to tell due to the fact that it’s Malta and Cyprus, I say give him a shot for games against Slovenia.) However right now, Livakovic is our number 1. I know not everyone has full faith in him, but I think he is still a good goalkeeper and once he moves to a bigger team, will improve his ball control. He is a good keeper, give him some time.

  35. Maminjo says:

    How come Livaković was handed the #1 spot in the first place though?
    We just decided to go with the Dinamo keeper, just because they are the best team in Cro (hence their goalkeeper is probably the best).
    The reality is that Livaković might not even be a top-3 keeper in the HNL.
    Grbić was better than Livaković last year, and was bought by Atlético for 6 million. I don’t see anyone knocking on Dinamo’s door to buy Livaković. Too bad Grbić being on the bench at Atlético is the reason he won’t get a shot. He might be decent. We’ll never know.
    Why not Ivušić or Kahlina?
    They’re both highly rated keepers by HNL standards. Not sure how Livaković gets the unquestionable start, but these guys don’t even get a callup.
    We even have keepers in other leagues who may be better.
    We have a veteran keeper in Andrija Vuković who has been starting in the Turkish League for 7 years now, and he was very good for RNK Split before that.
    Why no callup?
    Because he didn’t play for one of Hajduk or Dinamo?
    Our coaches are extremely lazy when it comes to scouting goalkeepers. It seems like they just go with a current (or former) Dinamo or Hajduk keeper, and that’s it. A simple Google search could do them very well.

  36. Maminjo says:

    I think we have a lot of gaffe keepers who are prone to making bad mistakes.
    I’ve seen this in all of Kalinic, Livakovic, Sluga, Letica, and Semper.
    Not a good sign.
    I think we just need to go fresh and call up some more keepers like Vukovic, Kahlina, Ivusic, Vargic (at least as backups so we can try them out in friendlies).

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