Thomas Tuchel has hinted that Chelsea may use a false nine rather than a natural striker if Sergio Ramos plays against them for Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Ramos missed the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between the two sides. However, the Madrid captain is back in contention for the second leg. After a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital, Chelsea will be eager to stay in control of the tie.
The potential return of Ramos will give them something to think about, though. Even at the age of 35, he remains one of the best defenders in the world.
Madrid used a back three consisting of Eder Militao, Raphael Varane and Nacho in his absence in the first leg. They reverted to a back four in their only La Liga match since, with the latter dropping out.
If Ramos is ready to visit Stamford Bridge, not only will it give Madrid another option in that area but it will also mean Chelsea have a tough opponent to get past. And with Varane ruled out of the match, the importance of the Spain international could increase.
Hence, Chelsea will need to counteract him – but Tuchel has hinted at their plan to do so.
Speaking to their official website, the Chelsea head coach suggested they may sacrifice a centre-forward and go with a false nine, as they have done in some recent matches.
“If we play with no striker at all and Ramos has nothing to fight then that can also be a solution,” he said. “I have not made my mind up yet.
“It’s another challenge because he is the leader of their group and he is the guy to give a lot of solutions to any questions that we will hopefully ask them.
“We will wait and see who is in good shape and good form, what shape we play and where we try to hurt them.
“I’m not too sure if they will play again with five or go back to four [in defence] so there are many questions but we don’t need the answers now. It’s enough if we have them on Wednesday.”
Ramos linked with Chelsea transfer
While Ramos could be lining up against Chelsea on Wednesday, there have been claims he could play for them next season.
The Blues saw the benefits of adding experience to their backline with the acquisition of Thiago Silva in the summer. They are looking for a longer-term successor to the Brazilian but the opportunity to partner him with Ramos in the meantime is an inviting one.
Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and although he could still stay with Real, he is yet to reach an agreement. That could allow Chelsea to swoop in.
According to a recent report from Don Balon, Chelsea are apparently willing to offer him a huge salary worth €25m per season. That would surely end Madrid’s hopes of clinging on to him.
Ramos would become one of the highest-paid players in the Premier League if he was to accept those terms. Hence, Chelsea have a good chance of convincing him financially.
The claims have not been backed up by any other sources, though, so it remains to be seen how advanced the negotiations really are.