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What is Sarriball? Breaking down Chelsea's style of play

Sarri is an exciting appointment for Chelsea. So let’s take a look at how Chelsea have adapted to the Sarriball

Last updated: 24.12.2018
What is Sarriball? Breaking down Chelsea's style of play | Sports Social Blog

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Conte was a revelation for Chelsea after a disappointing season under Mourinho. Despite winning the Premier League in his first season and lifting the FA Cup in his second, Antonio Conte was shown the exit door.

Sarri is an exciting appointment for Chelsea. His appointment is the most experimental under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. He has brought in a style of play never witnessed at Stamford Bridge before.


So let’s take a look at how Chelsea have adapted to the Sarriball:

Change in formation

Chelsea have reverted back to the 4-3-3 formation from the 3-4-3 under Conte, with Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta as the full-backs while Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz have been deployed at centre-back positions. David Luiz has benefited from Sarri's guidance after seeing a lack of playing time last season under Conte.

In midfield, it has been Kovacic and Kante playing a bit more advanced than Jorginho who sits deep and dictates play. With the more technical Jorginho playing deep, Kante has seen his role further up the pitch.

In recent weeks there has been a change up front with Pedro and Willian on the flanks while Hazard plays as the false 9, with Morata still struggling to adapt to the new tactics.

Possession based football

Sarriball is a fast-paced, possession based attacking football. Similar to Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka, it is based on short and quick forward passes. High-pressing is involved that forces defenders in committing errors (not like Klopp’s gegenpressing).

Sarriball involves in building from the back and depends on his defenders to hold possession and begin the first instance of attack. He plays with a high defensive line to stop opponents playing between the lines. With their on-field general, Jorginho, in midfield it means most of Chelsea's work is in the opponent's half. An exciting brand of football that definitely has got the fans excited.


Along with his philosophy of attacking football, Sarri brought in Jorginho from Napoli along with him. Nobody understands Sarriball better than the Italian. The 27 year old is key in handling the transition from defence to midfield.

Jorginho gets Chelsea ticking. Chelsea suffered their first loss of the season against Tottenham Hotspur and since then have suffered three losses in the league. Pochettino’s men came in with the perfect mindset to stop Cheslea. Pressing Jorginho and making sure he did not see much of the ball. In simple words, stop Jorginho and you stop Chelsea.

While Conte’s Chelsea relied on defensive setups and counter-attacking football, Sarri is more attack minded which is visible in the possession, shots on goals and other stats so far. Sarriball requires just as much tactical preparation as it does physical.

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