07 Apr 2022 | 12:16
Midfielder “The Blues” was substituted by coach Thomas Tuchel right after the first half of the match against Real Madrid on the morning of April 7 (Hanoi time). Kante had a difficult 45 minutes against “Los Blancos”. It is difficult for him to reproduce his peak form like this period last season.
Kante’s First Time
Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016, Kante has rarely been substituted after just the first 45 minutes of the game. If the French midfielder is not injured, he is always a reliable choice of Chelsea coaches such as Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard or now Tuchel.
But on the night Chelsea let Real Madrid sink the bitterness at home, Kante was substituted early. At the same time a year ago, the midfielder born in 1991 was voted the best player in both legs of the Champions League semi-finals.
Without Kante, it is unlikely that “The Blues” will surpass Real Madrid last season. In the 2020/21 Champions League final against Man City, Kante continued to receive the title of Player of the Match.
“It was a tactical change,” Tuchel told the press when asked after the game about his decision to replace Kante early. “Like every adjustment in football, that change is not just for one or two players.”
The German strategist does not want to confirm that Kante played badly against Real Madrid. He believes that all tactical changes are to serve the team and no star is invulnerable. However, the fact that Kante had to leave the field without injury says a lot about the player’s performance.
In addition to Kante, the last Chelsea players to be replaced by coach Tuchel include Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Abraham was sold to AS Roma in the summer transfer window of 2021, while Hudson-Odoi also struggled to regain confidence from Tuchel.
Things with Kante right now may not be as bad as Abraham or Hudson-Odoi’s experience. But in the context of Chelsea facing the risk of empty-handed this season, coach Tuchel can drastically change the way in which personnel are used.
Against Real Madrid, the Frenchman has the lowest pass accuracy (88%) of any Chelsea central midfielder. Kante also did not have a successful dribble. In terms of tackles, interceptions or interceptions, the French midfielder also has a round number.
In fact, Kante’s poor performance against Real Madrid is not too difficult to understand. Since suffering a knee injury in December 2021, Kante has never returned to the form of last season.
In the past, the player born in 1991 also suffered many injuries and then came back strong. However, at the age of 31, the French midfielder does not seem to be as prolific as in the past. Kante’s strength lies in his physical foundation and sacrifice for the team. But as he gets older, maybe it’s time for the midfielder to change the way he plays.
Kante needs to learn to be more selfish
The day before the match between Chelsea and Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, former player Emmanuel Petit warned that Kante must learn to be more selfish because the midfielder is “not immortal”.
The former France midfielder said: “Kante is 31 years old and he is not immortal, especially when he has to play in central midfield. You can see in the last two years he has suffered many injuries. The machine does not same as before”.
Kante has only started 15 of 29 matches for Chelsea this season. Petit believes that injuries can make the French midfielder’s form even worse.
“I don’t know since coming to England to play football, how much has he traveled on the pitch ,” commented the former Chelsea star. “If you look at the way Kante is playing right now, we can see that he is really having a hard time when his fitness declines.”
Kante’s steady form has been one of the keys to helping Chelsea conquer titles over the past half-decade. Since the French midfielder arrived at Stamford Bridge, “The Blues” won the English Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League or Champions League.
At one point, experts rated Kante as the best midfielder in the world. Abundant energy, mobility and unselfish play help Kante make a difference.
Coach Tuchel probably hopes Kante will regain his form in the match against “Los Blancos” last. The German strategist’s gamble failed when Luka Modric and Toni Kroos played excellent football. Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics probably neutralized Kante. But a few days before that, the former Leicester City star also had a bad day when he faced Brentford. Kante’s decline in form is obvious.
Coach Tuchel himself admitted he made a tactical mistake when facing Real Madrid. Mateo Kovacic has been Chelsea’s most in-form midfielder this season, but he failed to start in the Champions League quarter-finals. When Kovacic entered the field in the second half, things were better in the “Blues” midfield.
Perhaps coach Tuchel should start thinking about reducing the load for Kante in the near future. The French midfielder is in a period of recovery. As Petit says, Kante is not an “immortal” player. Every machine needs time to rest and recover.