The Debrief: Patience and finding the right combinations key to winning Champions League start

Those crosses weren’t the only way we tried to look for different solutions to breach the defensive wall put up in front of us. We attempted 23 dribbles compared to Zenit’s 15 as players tried to beat their man to break through the lines and create space in the opposition half, with Mateo Kovacic’s six dribbles the highest number of any player on the pitch, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech producing the next highest for Chelsea with four each.

The right combination

When the breakthrough did arrive it came via a trademark Cesar Azpilicueta cross to the back post from deep and that should have been no surprise as, along with Lukaku, it was the combination of the Spanish defender with Reece James and Mount down our right side which had looked like our most promising route to goal for much of the game.

In addition to Mount’s high number of dribbles, which unsurprisingly all came in the opposition half, James also beat his man twice in dangerous positions in the final third, and of our 22 crosses into the box, that trio accounted for 12 of them (Mount five, James four, Azpilicueta three).