Attacking Display of the Weekend: Rafa Benitez Unlocks Chelsea's David Luiz

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 23, 2012

LEEDS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19:  Chelsea Manager Rafael Benitez reacts during the Capital One Cup Quarter-Final match between Leeds United and Chelsea at Elland Road on December 19, 2012 in Leeds, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Chelsea put on a show for 40-odd thousand fans lucky enough to make their way down to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The club scored eight goals against a hapless Aston Villa defence, with seven different scorers gracing the sheet. Among those were David Luiz, Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard.

What did Rafa Benitez do to conquer Paul Lambert's charges?


Formations, shapes

Chelsea lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, but Luiz was found in midfield, like he was against Monterrey alongside Frank Lampard.

Branislav Ivanovic came inside to match up against Christian Benteke, while Villa continued with their 3-5-2 formation.


David Luiz the enforcer

When it became clear that Luiz was lining up in midfield, Benitez won a few more fans. Spectators have been calling for the Brazilian's insertion in the middle of the park for months and their wishes were finally respected.

Luiz has all the attributes to play in this role and he absolutely rocked it. His physical nature allowed him to get the better of Ashley Westwood, Brett Holman and Barry Bannan with ease and from there he dominated the centre.

He moved up and down with confidence, made interceptions and initiated attacks.

For the first time in a long, long time, Chelsea looked like a team as opposed to a defensive six and an attacking four. It was all Luiz's doing.

Being able to control the midfield and dictate proceedings allowed Chelsea's key attacking outlets into the game more and more often. The more you get the ball to Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, the more damage you can do.

The damage, in this case, is eight goals—a far cry from the counterattacking, defensive football the Blues played on the opening day at Wigan Athletic.


Everyone picks on Eric Lichaj

The way to beat Aston Villa is to use the right-hand side.

With right-sided player Lichaj deputising on the left, he is recognised as the clear weak link in the team.

Benitez saw this and used some ferocious attacking tools to open it up.

We saw Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta bomb down the right-hand side and isolate Lichaj to overpower him and create opportunities.

Eventually, Nathan Baker, playing as the left-sided central defender, was drawn into an almost permanent supporting role, shifting Villa's entire formation around.

It was no consequence, then, to see Hazard find a little more room to manoeuvre around Matthew Lowton on the opposite flank.



A classic but beautiful tactical victory for Benitez as he worked and probed at Lambert's weaknesses.

It started with winning the midfield battle using Luiz, then moved into working the right side with Azpilicueta and Moses.

That opened things up for everyone else, with Hazard and Lampard the main benefactors.