Graham Potter faces major selection headache after what happened in Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund


There were so many positives for Graham Potter to take from Chelsea's victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but one of the biggest was the much-improved display from Marc Cucurella. The 24-year-old has played 26 times for the Blues this season after signing from Brighton & Hove Albion but has often been strongly criticised for his performances.

Cucurella played on the left-hand side of a back-three, something that Thomas Tuchel signed him for back last summer with his versatility an attractive option, and set the tone for an aggressive Chelsea performance. Cucurella often stepped out of defence and snapped into the Dortmund attackers, winning the ball more often than not.

Early into the game, he slid and won the ball, ferociously, from Giovanni Reyna. The Stamford Bridge faithful loved it and it was a much-needed confidence-booster for the Spaniard.

"I think he got man of the match, didn't he? If the result hadn't gone our way, I'm not sure of the consequences," Potter replied when asked about Cucurella's performance . "I'm delighted for him. "Obviously when you're having a bad time like we've had then you accept the criticism, you have to deal with it. Marc has dealt with it well.

"We've tried to shield him a little bit and at the same time pick the moment. I thought tonight, regardless of the situation, the crowd were going to get behind us because it's the Champions League. Tonight, with Benoit [Badiashile] not available, I thought he [Cucurella] gave us the left foot and balance in the back-three and thankfully he delivered a top performance."

Cucurella enjoyed the scenes at full-time, and deservedly so. He's worked for this. It hasn't been easy – far from it, in fact. Usually Chelsea's players would be departing the pitch as quickly as possible, more out of embarrassment than anything else, but Tuesday was different. There was pride. The players stood with their chests pumped out. Now, Potter has a selection headache going into the weekend's Premier League match with Leicester City.

A welcome one, mind. Benoit Badiashile, who has been superb since signing for Chelsea in January , is back and available for selection, but where does this leave Cucurella? Common sense would suggest Potter will stick with the three-at-the-back formation that has led them to back-to- back wins and two consecutive clean sheets.

There looks to be much more balance and dynamism in the team when the three-back is the system used, so we expect to see it once again at the King Power Stadium at the weekend. Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly are expected to keep their places in the defence. Fofana, especially, has been absolutely superb in the last two games.

The Frenchman was the standout performer at the weekend as Chelsea beat Leeds United and he continued to show his aggression and matureness on the elite stage on Tuesday. Koulibaly , meanwhile, was excellent against Dortmund and perhaps proved some doubters wrong at Stamford Bridge.

With two central defenders either side of him, it looks to suit him more than playing in a four-back formation. Badiashile offers Chelsea the physical presence on the left side of defence but Cucurella gives Potter more tenacity and perhaps a bit more aggression. The Spaniard is someone who likes to link up with Ben Chilwell on the left wing as well and bring the ball into midfield. It's something he has tried plenty this season and ultimately failed, but Tuesday was different.

Potter mentioned he was "shielding" Cucurella and being mindful of when and how to use him. He saw the Dortmund test as the ideal opportunity and his logic was vindicated with a man of the match performance. Away at Leicester will be a wholly different game to Dortmund. The stadium won't be as loud or as manic as Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The home fans could start getting on his back if they view him as a weak link.

But there's not really a better time to try and use Cucurella on a consistent basis than right now. When else would you use him? He's just put in an elite performance against some wonderful Dortmund attackers and almost looked a class above. It's harsh on Badiashile, who as mentioned above, has been brilliant, but the Frenchman will still be used plenty before the season ends.

On the other hand, Potter may use Badiashile, who will have enjoyed a week's rest by the time Chelsea play at the King Power. Or, he could use Cucurella at left wing-back. Chilwell was excellent on Tuesday, just days after a terrific display against Leeds. The England international, however, is prone to injury problems, as is Reece James, so Potter may want to manage the left-back's game-time a bit more than he would with other players.

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