N’Golo Kante’s tireless 90 minutes against Atletico Madrid was a performance that embodied the very best of a defensive midfielder in his prime.
Kante was an ever-present nuisance in Atletico’s run of play, tracking back energetically, as always, to nullify the visitor’s attacks and pressing relentlessly to regain possession.
He put in a complete performance that drew praise from his manager, who called him a ‘gift’ to have. Speaking to the press in Chelsea’s post-match conference, via chelseafc.com, Tuchel spoke of the midfield genius:
“If you play with Kante, you always play with minimum half a man more because he gives an intensity volume that is simply outstanding and this is unique. It’s a pleasure to be coach for him and it’s a big gift for me.
A guy so humble and don’t underestimate his quality in passing, dribbling and escaping the pressure. There are still things to improve with him but it’s fantastic to have him.”
The Frenchman completed four of seven attempted dribbles, with a dribble success rate of 57%. He also completed 81 passes, including two key passes, with a remarkable pass success rate of 87.1%. (whoscored.com).
— Talk Chelsea (@talkchelsea) March 17, 2021
But, defensively is where he shone the most – making two key interceptions and disallowing any dribbles past him.
Former Chelsea player Joe Cole also showered his praise after the match on BT Sport where he works as a pundit.
“Players do not get round him. It is like having two men in there. He looks about five years younger again.” (Evening Standard)
Chelsea’s fantastic 13 game unbeaten run arrived with Tuchel marking a historic record. His next opponents might not prove to be as tough as the ones he’s already faced in the past few weeks, but nonetheless he will look to continue his team’s unbeaten start in his reign.