Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
Far-Fetched Friday: Timo Werner Will be Champions League Final MOTM
By: Jake Lofgren
This season has not gone exactly to plan for Timo Werner's first season at Chelsea. Compilations of Werner's misses rake up tons of views on YouTube, and every time Chelsea play, Werner makes the trending page on Twitter. His bad moments have certainly been bad, but a positive for him is that both Frank Lampard and now Thomas Tuchel seem to have a lot of faith in him.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at a German striker with a glorious chance at getting the last laugh.
So much so that he has still found himself on the field for 51 games this season. People are quick to label players as flops, but Werner's time at Chelsea is nowhere near finished. And even if he does end up a flop, who cares? Fernando Torres will forever be considered by most a Chelsea flop, and he scored one of the most iconic goals in the entire club's history against Barcelona in 2012 on the way to winning the Champions League. Chelsea would've still won without that goal, and maybe Werner does not score the winner, but that does not mean he cannot have his Fernando Torres moment.
So predicting Werner to be the best player on the field in a Champions League final is a huge statement, but it is possible. This game should be incredibly boring; whichever team scores first will likely be the winner and choose to sit in and play conservatively, forcing the other to come out of their defensive shell to break down a low block.
Chelsea will likely set themselves up very similarly to how they played against Real Madrid. They will drop back into a 5-3-2 formation and force City to break them down. When City loses possession, Chelsea's goal will be to counter, hopefully by finding Christian Pulisic, who will try to turn defenders and attack the space left vulnerable by City's attack. Werner will likely be the high striker next to Pulisic, whose job is to be a decoy and stretch the line and use his pace as a threat in behind. It should open up more space for Pulisic to do what he does best. The two "attacking 8s" in this system will likely be Kante and Mount/Kovacic. Defensively, the two have the task of pressing, and offensively, making long attacking runs once Chelsea is on the counter.
Mount and Kante had field days with Real Madrid's midfield in the semis and were very successful in opening up space for Chelsea's attacking talent, too. Now, City has lost their last two games to Chelsea and will adjust for this style. I mean, if I can see what Chelsea will do, then certainly Pep Guardiola will see that, too. Chelsea will not have countless opportunities in transition like they did against Real Madrid, but it only takes one successful one to shift the balance. This analysis makes it seem like Pulisic or Kante may end up being the MOTM, but that is too obvious.
In the Premier League, Timo Werner ranked 12th this season in expected goals with 13.43. So ending up in 50th place with six goals on the season and 18 big chances missed can only be looked at as a poor season. Although Werner still found ways to be effective for Chelsea. Werner did rank top 10 in assists on the season with 8, outperforming his expected assists of 6.67. Werner also won Chelsea 7 penalties this season, which is a great skill to have.
Unfortunately for him, Jorginho is Chelsea's penalty taker. If Werner takes these penalties, hypothetically, you could add seven more goals to his season total, which is a season-changing amount of goals. Timo Werner, clearly, adds value to Chelsea's game plan when used correctly or against the right teams; simultaneously, he has also been dreadful in front of goal. Both can be true.
In this age of modern sports, players become memes all the time. Although, this does not mean that these players can not come back and save their reputation. Harry Maguire became a regular meme casualty at Manchester United, and people constantly talked about how much Leicester fleeced United out of 80 million. Maguire has reinstated his status in the league this season and shown how important he is to United's success. It was evident in the Villarreal game where he did not play, and United lacked a commanding presence.
Jesse Lingard is perhaps the most famous meme in the football world. Lingard went through a long time of no-goal contributions before finally being freed by United to join West Ham on loan. Since then, he has played well enough to be included in England's provisional EURO squad and even win the April Premier League Player of the Month.
Just like Lingard and Maguire, Werner is not a bad player and is going through his rough patch now. I wrote an article before he even signed for Chelsea predicting he would win a Golden Boot for the Blues. It certainly looks a little more Far-Fetched than originally planned, but I still think it is possible based on what I have seen from him this season.
The Champions League final could be a monumental step in the right direction for him.
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