Former England defender Rio Ferdinand says Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma laid the foundations for a wonderful defensive display as Chelsea secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals in dominant fashion.
The Blues – already 1-0 ahead after the first leg against Atletico Madrid – eased through with a 2-0 victory over a toothless La Liga side at Stamford Bridge.
Their key forward, former Liverpool man Luis Suarez, was replaced after 59 minutes having had no impact.
BT Sport pundit Ferdinand said Zouma – who replaced the ill Andreas Christensen – and Rudiger stood out in a back three alongside Cesar Azpilicueta.
“They are hard to play against, they are aggressive,” said ex-West Ham, Leeds United and Manchester United centre-half Ferdinand. “That man Rudiger – him and Zouma – they were aggressive, they munched the Atletico Madrid strikers.
“Any attacks that came their way they were thwarted.”
Edouard Mendy was called into action to make an outstanding late save from Joao Felix just before Emerson added Hakim Ziyech’s first-half strike to seal the win in injury-time.
“There is a desire in his team not to concede goals,” Ferdinand added. “The last minute epitomised what this team is about. Mendy hasn’t done anything all game, makes a massive save at the end.
“They want to keep clean sheets game in, game out and they are onto something at the moment.
“They are a stingy team and they defend from the front.
“It was a super convincing performance. Tuchel has this team motoring.”
Ferdinand said Timo Werner’s input into the opening goal perfectly illustrated Chelsea’s collective defensive display, the German winning possession and then racing onto a Kai Havertz pass to tee up Ziyech.
“Werner is making a slide tackle defending a cross and then gets up the other end to set up a goal.
“They pressed all over the park, from the front players all over the team. Everyone tries to win the ball back.”