Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

February 27, 2014

The starting line-ups

Chelsea were completely dominant for the first half hour, but Roberto Mancini’s early substitution meant the game became more even.

Mancini surprisingly named a 4-4-2 system from the start, with Izet Hajrovic on the right flank, and Wesley Sneijder tucking inside from the left.

Jose Mourinho used Willian in the centre, two direct wide options down the flanks, and a mobile central midfield zone in the absence of cup-tied Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea should have won the game in the opening half hour, but Galatasaray fought back commendably.

Galatasaray system

Galatasaray’s first-half performance was shocking, with Mancini’s system playing perfectly into the hands of Chelsea’s counter-attackers in almost every way. Chelsea had various promising moments on the break, although their attackers often made wrong decisions and failed to build up a significant advantage.

Mancini’s 4-4-2 featured two strikers and two attack-minded wide players. This asked an awful lot of Selcuk Inan and Felipe Melo in the centre of midfield, and they were often overrun by Chelsea’s midfield trio – and were unsure whether to drop deep and protect their defence, or push up and pressure Chelsea’s midfielders.

Overall Galatasaray weren’t anywhere near compact enough, and their forwards did little without the ball. Chelsea could work the ball forward easily from defence, and then their midfielders had ample time on the ball to chip easy passes over the heads of the Galatasaray centre-backs, who were located too high up the pitch.

Galatasaray too high up the pitch

To save self-plagiarism

The first half’s major feature was Galatasaray’s suicidally high defensive line, which was repeatedly breached by Fernando Torres’ runs in behind. Perhaps Mancini was attempting to replicate the tactics deployed by his former club Manchester City in their recent 2-0 FA Cup victory over Chelsea – where the City defence played high up the pitch and minimised the space between the lines, closing down the Chelsea attacking midfielders as soon as they received passes.

Torres doesn’t possess the lightning acceleration of his Liverpool days, but he enjoyed an enormous speed advantage over Galatasaray centre-backs Hakan Balta and Aurelien Chedjou. Balta was exposed repeatedly in the first half, most obviously when he was extremely fortunate to be awarded a free-kick when competing for a long ball against Torres – this wrongly denied the Spaniard one-on-one with Fernando Muslera. Balta was removed at half-time.

Muslera, meanwhile, was uncomfortable playing behind a such a high defensive line, mishitting an early clearance when sweeping to hand Willian the chance to chip from distance, then darting forward unnecessarily for Torres’ opener.

Torres was in his element here, reminiscent of how dangerous he looked against Andre Villas-Boas’ high line earlier in the season at White Hart Lane, even when he was sent off.

Eboue forward

As has become customary with Galatasaray, Emmanuel Eboue played an extremely advanced role on the right…but kept losing possession in dangerous situations. His battle against Cristiano Ronaldo was the defining feature of Galatasaray’s match against Mourinho’s Real Madrid last year, but at least he was contributing something in the final third. Here, his poor passing meant Chelsea kept breaking into the space he had vacated.

There were various examples but the most obvious, of course, was the goal. This was a particularly extreme situation because Eden Hazard and Schurrle were briefly positioned on the same flank, while Cesar Azpilicueta stormed forward to provide a crucial overlap, too – not for the first time in this game.

Galatasaray change

Galatasaray went 4-1-4-1 after Mancini's sub on 30 mins

Mancini made an error in his starting selection, but reacted quickly when he realised the situation unfolding. After half an hour he made a defensive-minded substitution and completely changed the shape of his side, with right-winger Hajrovic removed, and holding midfielder Yekta Kurtulus introduced behind Inan and Melo, with Burak Yilmaz moving to the right.

Galatasaray almost instantly improved, primarily because they were now matching Chelsea in the centre of midfield, so  Inan and Melo had freedom to move higher up and close down Ramires and Frank Lampard without leaving space behind. It’s also arguable the presence of Kurtulus allowed the centre-backs to sit deeper, too.

Now, Galatasaray weren’t so exposed at the back and gradually grew into the game. Their attacking play wasn’t particularly good, partly because they’d started the match trying to play quick balls up to the front two to combine.

Now, long balls to Drogba weren’t very effective, while Wesley Sneijder played some nice passes but struggled to have a consistent impact.

Still, Galatasaray threatened from set-pieces and eventually Chedjou scored the equaliser shortly after the home side had hit the post.

Mourinho switch

Chelsea had started the second half targeting the left side of Galatasaray’s defence with long diagonal balls, but they were on the back foot – and after the equaliser, Mourinho made a defensive-minded substitution. John Obi Mikel replaced Schurrle, which initially seemed to move Ramires to the right, but then he tucked inside and Willian went right, meaning Chelsea – like Galatasaray – were now a 4-1-4-1 system.

After this change, the sides played in front of each other rather than offering penetration, and the game became extremely dull. From that 67th minute change onwards, the two sides attempted only five shots, of which one was on target. Chelsea slowed the game intelligently with some good ball retention, while Galatasaray were more attacking but didn’t have an obvious path to goal. Drobga was isolated, and eventually replaced by Umut Bulut, allowing Yilmaz to move upfront.

Late in the game Mourinho switched his front three, seemingly to get more disciplined players in wide areas. Willian was moved to the left to track Eboue and substitute Eto’o (who had replaced Torres) was right, with Hazard in a more central role, with fewer defensive responsibilities.


While Chelsea were content with 1-1 in the final 20 minutes, they really should have put themselves in command of the tie before half-time. Galatasaray’s amazingly high defensive line invited Chelsea to repeatedly knock simple passes in behind for Torres to chase, and Eboue’s advanced positioning allowed Chelsea to counter down his side. Judging by the positioning of Schurrle and Hazard for the goal, Mourinho had targeted the space in behind Eboue.

Galatasaray were also overrun in midfield, and while Mancini’s starting selection was a disaster, he deserves credit for admitting his mistake and making such an early tactical switch.

“Every attack we lost four players [ahead of the ball],” Mancini told Sky after the game. “This is impossible against Chelsea because they want to play on the counter-attack and we conceded the counter-attack every time. We needed another midfielder.”

Galatasaray weren’t particularly impressive for the final hour and didn’t have an obvious gameplan, but the switch probably prevented Chelsea from winning comfortably.

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