All of Chelsea's success has come under managers who were very defensive in their approach. Jose Mourihno and Antonio Conte both soccer coaches were successful at Chelsea and their teams were marked with solid defenses without much attacking fluidity.
While Liverpool and Man city were enthralling the world with their attractive football pressure was mounting on owner Roman Abramovich to bring about a change in Chelsea's style of play. News was circulating that he was ready to sell the club amid the increased scrutiny he was under. It is surprising how so many players now own sports team as it is tremendously difficult thing to do.
Thankfully for Chelsea the sale did not materialize and Roman Abramovich made a bold decision to appoint Maurizio Sarri, a coach with an attacking soccer philosophy. This was a departure from the existing playing style the players were familiar with.
His philosophy is now being termed as Sarriball. Let's see what it entails and which soccer players make it possible.
What is Sarriball?
Sarriball could be said to be the next level of tiki-taka football. Tiki-taka proved to be successful beyond imagination for Barcelona and then the Spanish national team. Sarriball is the same as tiki-taka only it is played laterally. Tiki-taka involved a lot of short and quick sideways passes whereas Sarriball involves short passes but in the lateral spaces of a football field. It is not possible to play a long ball in tiki-taka but it is possible in Sarriball.
The tiki-taka can only be successful if you have midfielders who are exceptionally good on the ball, who can keep possession all day long. Guardiola's team had Xavi and Iniesta, arguably the best midfield partnership in Barcelona's history. Likewise Sarriball also gives more emphasis on a solid midfield partnership who can press higher up the pitch and open up defenses with through balls.
The central defensive midfielder is the most important in Sarri's system. Kante has a very specific function wherein he is required to shield the defense from attack, and form the link between defense and midfield. Taking the ball from his defenders he then sprays passes to his partner in crime, the Brazilian Jorginho.
After Kante, Jorginho is the most important player for Sarri's system. No wonder Sarri was so insistent to bring Jorginho with him from Napoli. At the moment there is no better lateral passer in football than Jorginho. If given space in transition he has the ability to find the perfect pass in behind the defense.
Jorginho mostly plays in the left of the mid-field for Chelsea. The left back Alonso helps Jorginho in that he often makes the overlapping run which stretches defenses and creates more space for Jorginho to operate.
One of the reasons David Luiz is getting so much game time under Sarri is his ball playing ability. He has got a decent pass on him and can find the wide players with a long pass from the back. Once the ball reaches the wide players either Hazard or Willian the series of short lateral passes can begin. David Luiz's presence makes it possible for Chelsea to play the ball out of pressure when the opposing team is pressing high.