Three tactical battles as Chelsea and Liverpool prepare for the FA Cup final


For those of you who are Star Wars fans, you will no doubt know the famous scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader finally face off inside the Death Star years after Kenobi had nearly ended Vader’s reign as Sith Lord before it really started. That same tense clash between master and alumnus will play out at Wembley when Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea take on Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Although not as close as has been originally reported over the years, according to Tuchel himself in an interview last year, the pair of former managers of 1.FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund have followed similar paths and “speak the same football language” although they are cut from very similar scissors. Unlike Obi-Wan and Anakin, they may never have been inseparable, but their football fates have remained connected over the years and that has now come to a head with great honors on the line.

the The FA Cup final will be played tomorrow It will already set a historical marker as either coach will lift the trophy and become the first German to achieve that honour.

Both teams, under the guidance of their German strategists, are primed and ready to carry on their winning traditions, after Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy last season, while Liverpool edged out Manchester City for conquest. of the Premier League title two seasons ago.

With Klopp nominated as final Manager of the Year in the Premier League, after guiding Liverpool to a chance of overcoming Pep Guardiola’s side with two games remaining in the league, Tuchel will once again have a lot to prove if he is to be seen as a manager up to the task. the two leading management lights in England.

As both clubs can boast talent at all positions, thin margins are likely to separate one from the other at the end of 90 minutes. And on that note, here are three key tactical battles where FA Cup trophies can be won or lost.

Luis Diaz vs Reece James

Three key battles as Chelsea and Liverpool set for FA Cup final clash

SEVILLE, SPAIN – APRIL 13: Luis Diaz of Porto runs with the ball under pressure from Reece James of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Porto at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan on April 13, 2021 in Seville, Spain. Sports stadiums across Spain remain under tight restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, as government social distancing laws bar fans from inside venues, resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

In a delightful battle that could truly make or break the fortunes of Chelsea and Liverpool in tomorrow’s FA Cup final, Reds leader Luis Diaz has set the world on fire at Anfield since his arrival from Portuguese giants FC Porto in the winter transfer window. and he will face England international Reece James; one of the best right-backs in Europe this season.

Both players possess a burning pace and work-rate that often sets the tone for performances by the entire team, while both are also sizeable attacking points on the same side of the pitch. Diaz has been one of Liverpool’s most influential players despite not being with the club long, and James remains a primary influence in all phases of Chelsea’s game. Whoever emerges victorious from this titanic clash could have huge implications for tomorrow’s overall result.

Mason Mount vs Thiago

Games are often won and lost in midfield. The heart of the football engine room has produced countless legendary players and memorable performances that marked moments, years and even eras. It remains to be seen whether or not Mason Mount and Thiago meet in the center of the park will be another example of a key clash with major implications, but what is guaranteed is that both players will have a key role to play on the day.

An academy and Chelsea graduate through and through, Mount is embarking on a career many can only dream of and is now arguably the first name on the Blues team sheet and topping the goals and assists charts under Tuchel this season. As for Thiago, his quality has been undeniable since his days at Barcelona and he was equally on display during his time in Bavaria with Bayern Munich. He was patchy after arriving at Liverpool, but he has been absolutely huge for Klopp this season thanks to plenty of man-of-the-match performances for the Reds. Both players are able to control the pulse of a match while pulling strings that others cannot. A tasty midfield battle awaits these two.

Virgil van Dijk vs. Romelu Lukaku

Netherlands and Belgium; two nations in the lowlands that have been intertwined for centuries have also become hotbeds of soccer talent for decades. Two of the greatest talents to ever emerge from those countries come into direct contact once again as Romelu Lukaku takes on Virgil van Dijk in an epic battle between one of the best goalscorers for club and country in recent seasons against one of the best center backs in the world.

Lukaku has not enjoyed his second spell at Chelsea in the way many Blues fans would have hoped after he failed to adjust to life with Thomas Tuchel since his arrival from Inter in the summer, but the all-time top scorer for Belgium he has hit a purple patch in front of goal of late, scoring three in his last two league outings and could play a vital role for Van Dijk-dependent Tuchel’s men. The imposing Dutch centre-back has remained a beacon of leadership, poise and achievement under Klopp since arriving from Southampton, and those key attributes will be tested once again as he has to face a potentially reinvigorated Lukaku supported by influential Mason Mount. . In a match where goals may not flow like regular water, this is as big a matchup as any.


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