Ex-German international and Chelsea star Michael Ballack has revealed that the success of Antonio Conte‘s 3-4-3 formation this season is all down to wing-backs Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso.
The London Blues leaders have been in scintillating form since making the change to playing with three centre-backs and adding the more attack-minded Moses and Alonso to their starting XI, winning 17 of their last 18 games.
Conte has received widespread praise for his flawless introduction of this system in England, which has not seen a great deal of success for similar setups in the past.
However, Ballack has been keen to praise Chelsea’s two wing-backs for helping the west Londoners become such a force since the change of system.
‘The key is the wing-backs,’ Ballack told the London Evening Standard. ‘That system cannot work unless you have wide players who can attack and defend.
‘That is a huge quality Chelsea have – they need to be able to run 13 kilometres per game and make the difference at both ends of the pitch.
‘When they are adaptable, it can be five at the back to be defensive or you can overload in wide positions to overwhelm opponents going forward. The centre-backs are very intelligent players and sometimes if a system is new to a group of players, if they are 100% convinced by a change, then they take to it quickly.’
Ballack added that he is not too surprised to see how well Moses, in particular, has adapted to his new role, despite the Nigerian having previously played as an attacking winger for most of his career prior to this season.
‘It is more difficult to teach a defender to attack than an attacking player to defend,’ he explained.
‘When I played with Ashley Cole, he could run up and down like crazy but Moses can play one versus one on the wing and beat a man. Players can learn defensive discipline more easily than how to get past someone with skill.’
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