Eden Hazard won nearly all of the Man of the Match awards, given out by various footballing websites and media entities, for his dominant performance in Chelsea‘s 1-0 win at Manchester City. He played wonderfully and dictated play in a way that would have even made Lionel Messi green with envy. When Hazard dribbles it seems that the ball is glued to his feet, and combined with his pace, fans witnessed the player thoroughly humiliate one of the best teams in the Premier League.
Yet, back in the shadows of the defensive midfield, January signing Nemanja Matic was dictating play in his own way. Alongside David Luiz, the Serbian created a ‘no fly zone’ for Manchester City’s attacking midfield, constantly harassing Yaya Toure and David Silva, leaving them with little time for creativity. Matic was brought in by Jose Mourinho to add defensive steel to the center of midfield, and the trust of the coach was repaid in kind with the type of performance that will leave the Portuguese boss smiling for days — okay, maybe hours.
Matic’s defensive play left room for Luiz to transition the play into attack, although the Brazilian did well not to stray too far from his positional responsibilities. At the end of the game Nemanja had three successful take-ons, made three tackles and won three out of four headed duels. Two interceptions and 11 clearances prove his positioning prowess, while an 85 percent pass completion was the key to his dominant display.
What is impressive about Matic’s distribution is not only the amount of passes completed, but the amount going forward. This is also a testament to his teammates’ movement up the pitch and ability to connect to his passes.
In an earlier interview (according to chelseafc.com) Matic made clear his desired impact:
“I always try to push the team forward. If I have to pass backwards of course I’ll do that but, for me, the first objective when I get the ball is to play forward.”
This was a promising start to Matic’s second Chelsea career and Blues’ supporters will hope to see many more top displays from the midfield battler.
Also, in case you missed it, Nemanja Matic was this close to getting on the score sheet.
VINE: What an effort this was from Nemanja Matic – https://t.co/Ltvwi7doZl
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 3, 2014