Kai Havertz owes Cesar Azpilicueta for the assist after he scored the winning penalty for Chelsea in their Club World Cup success on Saturday night.
Azpilicueta won the penalty after his shot hit Luan Garcia’s hand and the Chelsea captain then produced a 1,000 IQ move to deceive Palmeiras’ players.
The Spaniard picked up the ball as if to take the spot-kick. Palmeiras’ players then spent a considerable length of time trying to put Azpilicueta off.
When the drama died down, Azpilicueta handed the ball to Havertz, who faced no harassment, and the German cooly scored from 12 yards.
It was a really clever move that will likely be seen more and more in football now.
What did Azpilicueta say afterwards?
“Kai knew that he was going to shoot so it was to release the pressure from him. It was a decisive moment and Kai is one of the best penalty takers,” Azpilicueta said, per Chelsea’s website.
“I waited and listened to everything their players told me, and I think it worked which is the most important thing.”
Thread analyses Azpilicueta’s tactics
An in-depth Twitter thread breaking down Azpilicueta’s tactics further explains the intricacies of it.
Chelsea have deployed the intimidation tactic when facing a penalty themselves, so they know all about it. Smartly, they stayed one step ahead by conjuring a counter to it, as explained by football psychology researcher Geir Jordet.
“A counter-measure in these situations is for the penalty taker to wait outside the area & arrive late at the penalty mark – a strategy [Liverpool’s Mo] Salah now employs,” Jordet writes.
“Chelsea took it to the next level, by appointing their captain as a decoy penalty taker. Clever. Effective. Beautiful.”
Check out the entire thread below.
Azpilicueta’s a Chelsea legend
Azpilicueta’s journey to becoming a Chelsea legend is iconic.
Signed from Marseille for just £7 million in 2012, the Spaniard has played a starring role in their perennial pursuit of major trophies that continued with their FIFA Club World Cup success on Saturday night.
He’s made more than 450 appearances for the Blues, winning the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup, and epitomises what it means to be a true leader.