Despite Chelsea’s catastrophic start to the season, Brazilian winger Willian has undoubtedly flourished in amongst the turmoil.
Only three months into the campaign and the 27-year-old is already experiencing his most prolific year at the club. However, what makes his tally of six goals so remarkable is that they’ve all been free-kicks.
In fact, his set-piece heroics have been to such an extent that nobody on the continent can match Willian’s free-kick accuracy, according to Sky Sports. His ability to whip the ball past the goalkeeper from a variety of distances and angles is simply unrivalled.
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Upon leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic flat-footed with another whirling dead-ball strike, Willian stretched his yawning lead as Europe’s most prolific free-kick taker.
The Brazilian’s closest rival proves AS Roma’s Miralem Pjanic, who was described by Juninho as the ‘best free-kick taker in the world’. However, this season, his tally of four proves substandard to Willian’s clinical accuracy.
Across Europe’s top five leagues, the Europa League and Champions League, aside from Willian and Pjanic, nobody has scored more than twice from free-kicks. In fact, only five have scored more than once, despite 459 players attempting to score from a dead ball.
Willian’s free-kick statistics this season are nothing short of miraculous.
The winger is Chelsea’s top scorer this campaign; remarkable when you consider his team-mates have all had an abundance of chances from open play.
Europe has bore witness to the winger’s potency in particular, with Chelsea’s 0-0 draw away to Dynamo Kiev proving the Blues’ only fixture not to stage a Willian free-kick goal.
Furthermore, the six goals have sprouted from just 11 efforts, and only once has Willian failed to hit either the target or wood work; his accuracy is superb.
Southampton are the only side to muster a wall able to keep the Brazilian out, but only after Willian whipped in a screamer earlier in the game.
Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo may soak up the publicity for being a free-kick expert, the spotlight should be cast on Chelsea’s Willian after his spectacular start to the season.
With two wins and two clean sheets on the bounce, prospects are rising for the Blues' season. If Jose Mourinho’s men are to salvage this term then Willian will prove critical - and if the free-kick specials continue to find the net, the Brazilian may just give the Blues the leg-up they need to make the top four.