Just as in last year's Champions League final, Chelsea triumphed despite having minority possession (42%) and attempting fewer passes. They just about ticked on to 200 completed passes, most of them notably more vertical than Benfica's more patient switch play.
@Ã¢ÂÂ¬Ovywizkid shared a fascinating screen showing Fernando Torres's involvement. Chelsea were clearly happy to hit Torres early and hope to get their attacking midfielders involved, but the plan floundered as the Spaniard only won 4 of his 13 aerial duels, all contested in a very tight area of the pitch. Still, Torres' only two actions in the box were rather telling: rounding the goalkeeper (as shown by the orange lozenge on the screen) and scoring the opening goal.
One of the men Chelsea wanted on the ball was Juan Mata. The Spaniard completed 30 passes, more than any other Chelsea player, and created 6 chances Ã¢ÂÂ including 2 assists (the through ball for Torres' opener and the corner for Branislav Ivanovic's winner. Mata created twice as many chances as anyone else on the pitch and, on average, created one in every five passes.
The teams' difference in style is demonstrated by examining the passes in the attacking third, as shared by @marktheroberts: Benfica were happy to pass around and try to work an opening, while as Mark put it: "CFC struggled in final third, not one pass complete in Benfica's 18-yard Ã¢ÂÂ but it doesn't matter!"
Benfica were often happy to work the ball out to their widemen, Nicolas GaitÃÂ¡n and Eduardo Salvio. @cordobeh's screenshared dashboards show how the flankers worked in very defined triangular areas, but rarely switched the point of attack directly Ã¢ÂÂ allowing Chelsea's defence to shuffle across and cover.
Then again, as @ZazooFootball shared, Benfica crossed regularly and fairly effectively: few teams complete as many as one in three crosses, as the Eagles did.
In between the two wide men, Cardozo often dropped deep into the areas nominally occupied by support striker Rodrigo, whose ineffective evening was ended early by Benfica's first substitution.
Cardozo was dropping deep because he was getting little change out of Ivanovic and Gary Cahill. The former Bolton man contributed more clearances, aerial duels and interceptions, and was Chelsea's second-most prolific passer after Mata (completing 29 of his 34 passes), while the matchwinner's passes tended to be more vertical and less successful.
Despite their differing styles, the teams registered a similar number of efforts, as shown by the shots screen shared by @alexdsmith. Note, though, that Chelsea got 5 of their 12 efforts on target compared to Benfica's 3 of 15 Ã¢ÂÂ a small but telling margin of efficiency.
And speaking of efficiency, Benfica frontman Cardozo had 6 shots compared to Torres' 1. As @DaireKilkelly1 said with tongue firmly in cheek, "Torres was man of the match for me: here's the stats to back it up". That's Stats Zone for you...
Stats Zone is a free-download app from FourFourTwo and Opta, updated LIVE in-play. The Europa League Stats Zone is brought to youin association with Western Union's PASS scheme, which turns every completed Europa League pass into a day's education for young people around the world.
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