Chelsea are fighting an uphill battle in the Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid after the 2-0 defeat in the first leg.
Considering Chelsea’s goalscoring form, overcoming the two-goal deficit in the second leg on Tuesday seems an impossible task, but there is no denying that they have the quality to surprise even Real Madrid.
The Blues beat Real Madrid twice in the last three years; the 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in 2021 and the 3-1 win at Santiago Bernabeu last year which eventually ended up with a 3-2 scoreline after extra time.
How did Chelsea do that?
Former Blues manager Thomas Tuchel deployed a 3-5-2 formation in both games. This is likely part of the reason why Lampard used a similar structure in the first leg albeit with different results.
The biggest difference is that Tuchel fielded two deep midfielders behind Mason Mount who played as a hybrid between a number 10 and a number eight in this formation.
Lampard, on the other hand, used Enzo Fernandez as a lone number six with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic playing as number eights.
Mount’s injury situation likely forced Lampard to make the decision
Two players, in particular, were key in both wins under Tuchel; Mount and Timo Werner. Both scored in these wins.
Obviously, Werner is no longer at Chelsea, but they still have players who can be a similar threat with their pace, such as Mykhailo Mudryk.
Mount is still at Chelsea, but it remains unclear whether he is ready to start after the recent pelvic injury setback.
Many fans would urge Lampard to take the risk. Mount’s ability to press the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric could prove invaluable.
The alternatives are Joao Felix and Conor Gallagher. Felix is the better attacker but does not offer what Mount does defensively. Gallagher arguably does, but he is not as comfortable with receiving passes in tight spaces as the other two.
In other words, a 3-5-2 with Mount in this hybrid role could be Chelsea’s best chance of replicating those wins.
The other key aspect of the two wins over Real Madrid was N’Golo Kante’s performance.
This is something that Lampard can hopefully count on, although playing him for the full 90 minutes seems still risky.