Chelsea beat Al Hilal: 5 things we learned as Romelu Lukaku returns to the scoresheet | Football | Sport
Al Hilal vs Chelsea: Match in pics
Chelsea have learnt a good few things after their win over Al Hilal in the Club World Cup. The Blues are through to the final and have a chance to win the competition for the first time in their history.
Chelsea edged past Al Hilal in their Club World Cup semi-final after Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the match.
It means that the Blues will face Brazilian outfit Palmeiras in the final to get the chance to win the tournament for the first time in their history.
Despite Thomas Tuchel being absent with Covid, his side got the job done with extreme professionalism to fire back at their critics after some difficult games.
So, what have we learnt from their Al Hilal victory? Express Sport is on hand…
Romelu Lukaku gave his all in his performance for Chelsea (Image: GETTY)
Romelu Lukaku needed that goal
Since his ill-timed interview that sparked outrage among the Chelsea fanbase, Lukaku has been playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
It has unnecessarily heaped pressure on himself and it has affected his play, looking desperately short of form and confidence.
Against Al Hilal, the Belgium international had some difficult moments but he did not stop trying and was rewarded with a tap-in from a defensive error.
If Lukaku is to forge a long-term future at Stamford Bridge, it will require performances like this where the striker must give 100 per cent every game.
Marcos Alonso is the weak link
Ben Chilwell may have been in the camp but he remains miles off a full recovery, meaning Alonso will likely be Chelsea’s first-choice left-back until the end of the season.
And that will give the Blues plenty of problems as the Spaniard simply cannot lace Chilwell’s boots when it comes to defensive and attacking outputs.
Alonso has made a penchant for big goals at important moments over his career at Stamford Bridge, which has usually masked his poor performances.
But with them also missing from his artillery at the moment, the wing-back is becoming a liability for the club and a replacement must surely be one of the priorities in the summer transfer window.
Kai Havertz was in the mood for Chelsea today (Image: GETTY)
Kai Havertz deserves to start
Remarkably, this was the first time Havertz had started a match since a 2-0 win against Tottenham in the first leg of their Carabao Cup clash on 5 January.
And much like that game, where the German scored, he oozed quality throughout and left Chelsea fans perplexed why he has been left out for so long.
Finding a position for Havertz might be Tuchel’s biggest problem but it is one he must solve as the playmaker can offer so much to this team – especially one that has looked bereft of ideas in the final third.
Hakim Ziyech running the show
Much has been made of Ziyech in recent times after being ostracised from the Morocco squad and his subsequent retirement from international football.
But it has been to Chelsea’s benefit, it appears, after a string of fine performances in blue including today against Al Hilal.
With Cesar Azpilicueta on the flank, it allowed the forward to cut in on his favoured right foot and cause all sorts of trouble.
The 28-year-old’s great form could not come at a better time for him, responding to his critics who were starting to question his impact for Chelsea.
Hakim Ziyech was in fine form for Chelsea (Image: GETTY)
Mateo Kovacic is Chelsea’s all-action hero
Chelsea have often been blessed with top-class midfielders and Kovacic firmly deserves to be in that category after yet another sensational display.
There are many admirable qualities that the Croatia international possesses including his vision, touch and ability to break the press.
But what might not get talked about as much is his off the ball antics, popping up all over the pitch and plugging the gaps while his defensive work-rate is phenomenal.
The Blues already have world-class options in midfield in N’Golo Kante and Jorginho but Kovacic’s importance was underlined when those two swapped spots against Al Hilal as opposed to the ex-Real Madrid ace.