Thomas Tuchel – Tactical Analysis – Where Should He Land Next?

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Thomas Tuchel’s PSG weren’t brilliant in Ligue 1 this season, but his sacking still came as a relative surprise for many footballing fans. Given his reputation as a tactical innovator at FSV Mainz 05, Borussia Dortmund and even to an extent the Parisians, all clubs (and potentially even national teams) in need of a new manager should be thinking long and hard about the potential to bring the German into their set-up. Alongside analyzing his principles of play, common trends across his managerial career, and potential suitors, we establish where might be the best place for Thomas Tuchel to land next in this three-part tactical analysis. This is our latest analysis into the mind of last season’s UEFA Champions League finalist, Thomas Tuchel. Be sure to check out part one, where we analyzed his principles of play, in preparation for establishing the best possible fit for the German manager. But now, here are three teams that should be taking a serious look into Thomas Tuchel given his credentials, their potential need for a new manager and his style of play.

1. chelsea

With Frank Lampard’s current struggles (and now his out of the blue sacking), in addition to Thomas Tuchel’s principles of play fitting perfectly, the German would make a lot of sense as the next manager of Chelsea. The former PSG man has been linked with the Blues and negotiations may begin to take place now that Lampard is out of the picture. Chelsea have always been a team more than capable of playing “heavy metal football”, and would adapt well to Tuchel’s principles of play. Perhaps this heavy metal nature and the intensity that Tuchel would bring to the team would be exactly what Chelsea need to get them firing again. They would be more than capable of pressing from the front, and would likely do so more effectively than they have under Frank Lampard. Players like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz could be key to his team, despite struggling under Lampard’s management at the moment. Chelsea could for example play in a 4-2-2-2, with Timo Werner as a striker alongside someone like Abraham or Giroud, in the exact role the German forward played at Leipzig. Havertz would also fit into this system well, allowing him to play as a cross between a winger and an attacking midfielder.

Tuchel would then have a strong base to both press and build-out from the back with. He would have a great option in Mateo Kovacic to use in build-up phases, and could help Mason Mount develop that side of his game. Billy Gilmour could easily be Tuchel’s next Julian Weigl, playing as a key cog in the system sooner than expected. At the same time, the fact that central midfielders generally remain more important than defensive midfielders in Tuchel’s build-up, N’Golo Kante could continue to play the ‘number 6’ role without needing to play some sort of Sarri-ball along the way. Chelsea also have excellent ball-playing centre-backs like Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva, and attack-minded fullbacks in Reece James and Ben Chilwell. He might even help to get the best out of his compatriot Antonio Rudiger, who hasn’t had the best of times under Lampard. If Tuchel wanted to operate in a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 instead, he’d easily be able to do so, as both formations have been used by Lampard with the same set of players.

Tuchel’s arrival at the club really might be an excellent way to get Chelsea’s misfiring Germans back on track, without compromising the ability of players like Christian Pulisic (who Tuchel has worked with in the past) and Hakim Ziyech. Wherever he’s gone, Tuchel has usually utilized at least one winger who doesn’t play as an out and out winger (Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Angel di Maria, etc.) and both Ziyech and Havertz would be capable of playing that role on the right as Reece James overlaps from his fullback position. Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic could lead Tuchel’s press from the front, with the likes of Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante adding to the their ability to defend from the front. It would be unlikely that any of Chelsea’s youngsters who’ve succeeded under Lampard would be cast to the side, and much of the same principles of play would remain intact, just to a heightened level.

Chelsea would in earnest truth be a great fit for the German manager, and the right size of club. The question would then be about if the club are willing to meet Tuchel’s demands, or if another club snatches up his services before Chelsea are willing to commit. For more on why Chelsea would be the perfect fit for Thomas Tuchel, check out part three to this series where we examined this potential fit in depth.

2. borussia dortmund

Although this is probably the one that functionally makes the most sense, it’s probably also the one that’s the least likely to happen on our list. Thomas Tuchel has outgrown Borussia Dortmund since being sacked by the club in 2017. At the time it was even worse of a decision from the board than Lucien Favre’s recent removal, so you can imagine how Dortmund fans would welcome Tuchel back with open arms. Whether or not the board would do the same, or if Tuchel would even want to go back might be a different story. But it’s undeniable that Dortmund is the perfect fit for the German manager to bring all of his methodologies out and revolutionize a club team again as he did with Mainz. Thomas Tuchel loves versatile players like Raphael Guerreiro, Julian Brandt and Emre Can, and would be the best man to get the best out of these types of players. Dortmund have always been a team who want their fullbacks to get forward, and Tuchel would do the exact same with the struggling Thomas Meunier and the flamboyant Raphael Guerreiro – both of whom he’s worked with in the past. He would also be key to bringing in and identifying a new attack-minded right-back, such as Thilo Kehrer or someone like a Kyle Walker-Peters or Hans Hateboer to change Dortmund’s fortunes down the right. At the moment, Dortmund is not the most attractive place to go without a top manager with the stature of Jurgen Klopp or Thomas Tuchel, and the German manager would aid Dortmund’s quest to get back to being one of Europe’s elite eight.

When it comes to pressing, playing out from the back and fluidity within their system of play, these are all principles that Dortmund have respected throughout the years. Tuchel would likely be the best man to identify what system works best, as both Favre and Terzic have had problems with the 4-2-3-1. After much success in his first season using the formation, Favre got the best out of his players in his sophomore year using a 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 formation, something Tuchel was very familiar with during his time in charge of the club. Finally, he’s already worked with the likes of Reus, Guerreiro, Hummels, Burki, Meunier, and Piszczek, and might have enough poll to bring some players back to the club that should have never been let go like Matthias Ginter, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Julian Weigl. Given all of his principles of play, the club’s ideologies and the players he’d have available, Borussia Dortmund and Thomas Tuchel are a perfect fit. The only thing working against Dortmund and Thomas Tuchel being a perfect match is their former history together and the size and stature of the club compared to the manager.

3. barcElona

Since it’s pretty much accepted at this point that Barcelona are going to be looking for a new manager, we decided to include FC Barcelona in the mix as well. Thomas Tuchel and Barcelona are far from a perfect match, as the tiki taka, possession-based teams of Barcelona’s past aren’t exactly the same as the gegenpressing, counter attacking teams of Tuchel’s. But playing out from the back and attack-minded fullbacks would fit nicely with both manager and club, as would the presence of a lone defensive midfielder and the likely implementation of a 4-3-3 formation. Barcelona have played 4-3-3 since before the Guardiola days, and Ronald Koeman used the 4-2-3-1 to a complete and utter failure at the start of the season. In a Messi-less world and one that would also see the likes of Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba fade to the background, Barcelona are in need of a massive overhaul regardless of their next hire. Bringing in Thomas Tuchel would be a signal of intent that they are willing to begin that overhaul process under a new regime and new style of play. Players like Memphis Depay or Fabian Ruiz that have been linked in the past could be marquee signings for Tuchel to aid in his transition process. The problem for FC Barcelona is that bringing in someone like Tuchel would almost undoubtedly require more of an overhaul than bringing in a Spanish coach who’s grown up with the Barcelona way of playing, which is still the common way of playing for most footballing teams in La Liga. A Xavi Hernandez for example would probably continue to show faith in Barcelona’s youth just like Ronald Koeman has done, whereas Tuchel would bring in several new faces and a different way of playing that only a few of their players will be accustomed to. It could get the best out of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, who was fantastic under Thomas Tuchel. But a lot of the youth that Koeman’s brought into the fold could struggle to adapt.

Thomas Tuchel and FC Barcelona probably wouldn’t be a great fit, but it would be an interesting test for the German to see how he would adapt his tactics and evolve his style of play. Given the market, it also remains a possibility, despite the lack of person-organization fit.

4. german national team

This may be a little far fetched, but Joachim Löw has been in charge of Deutschland for more than fourteen years. His time to leave the managerial role at one of the biggest national teams in the world is certainly on its way, and Thomas Tuchel may be an ideal replacement. This is assuming of course that Hansi Flick wants to stay at Bayern Munich, but Tuchel could definitely contest for the role against the team’s former assistant coach. First off, Germany have a strong desire to press from the front and would do so more effectively under Thomas Tuchel. Players like Timo Werner, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane have all been part of pressing teams of the past and present and would know exactly what to do in Tuchel’s ideals.

Further, he’s worked with the likes of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan, and Thilo Kehrer at club level and could easily bring back all three into the fold, despite the age of the first two in that mix. Gundogan would be a perfect midfielder for his system and for his desire to play out from the back through central midfielders, and perhaps even Julian Weigl would earn a recall to the team. Weigl was excellent throughout Tuchel’s tenure as Dortmund manager and would be a capable understudy to Joshua Kimmich – the perfect man to play as the lone holding midfielder for a Tuchel team. As far as attack-minded fullbacks go, Tuchel would have options in Robin Gosens, Thilo Kehrer, Joshua Kimmich and Benjamin Henrichs to name a few. He might prefer Kimmich in a defensive midfield role, while a Kehrer-Gosens partnership isn’t exaclty the greatest fullback duo Germany’s ever seen. But it could be effective for a Thomas Tuchel side that presses from the front and attacks from the back. So although it might be far fetched, Thomas Tuchel could bring some much needed change to Germany’s set-up and could be an excellent option for the Germans to win another major trophy.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Out of these four teams, we suggest that Thomas Tuchel move to Chelsea, based on his principles of play, the personnel available and the problem areas most in need of repairs at Stamford Bridge. Other options might be available to Thomas Tuchel in the future such as Juventus and Manchester City, both of which would also be excellent for the German. But for now, these four teams might be most in need of a new manager of the caliber of someone like Thomas Tuchel and all four should be considering him as a potential option to revolutionize their club in the near future.


So there it is! Part Two of our tactical analysis all about where Thomas Tuchel should land next. Who do you think his next club should be? Feel free to leave a comment below or on Twitter @mastermindsite. Also be sure to check out more of our Tactical Analyses, Part One of this series, where we examined Tuchel’s principles of play and over-arching tactics across his managerial career, and Part Three where we took a greater look at the potential fit between Tuchel and Chelsea. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…
-> Why Thomas Tuchel is the Perfect Fit for Chelsea – Tactical Analysis
-> Thomas Tuchel – Paris Saint Germain – Tactical Analysis
-> Thomas Tuchel’s Principles of Play – Tactical Analysis

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