A trip to London’s Olympic Park on Saturday evening was enough to encapsulate the entirety of Timo Werner‘s first season in England.
The German international started as Thomas Tuchel‘s central striker, scoring the crucial winning goal to move Chelsea back into the Champions League places – a competition they contest in Spain this week.
So which Timo Werner will Real Madrid encounter on Tuesday? The good Werner or the bad Werner? The answer is: probably a mixture of the two.
Just when you think he’s having a good game, he’ll pass up a golden opportunity to score and, just when you think he’s having a shocker, he’ll pop up with a vital assist.
While there can sometimes be no in-between for strikers who rely on confidence, there really isn’t an extreme side of Werner, either good or bad.
It’s not that Werner is an outright striker, either. It wasn’t long before Frank Lampard began deploying him as a left winger during the first part of the season and, while Tuchel was expected to rediscover the potent finisher that played for RB Leipzig, he still fluctuates in his position.
On Saturday, he started as Chelsea‘s No.9. The previous weekend in the FA Cup, he played from the left, with Kai Havertz the more central figure in Tuchel‘s front three. In both games, Werner was decisive.
Against Manchester City at Wembley, Chelsea exploited the German’s pace down the sides of the defence. On two occasions, he crossed for Hakim Ziyech to score – one offside and one not – as he settled for the role of creator over converter. That combination was what helped Tuchel‘s side on their way in the second leg of their Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid.
Against West Ham, it was Werner who occupied the poacher’s position, finishing off a cross from Ben Chilwell to score himself. Right on cue, though, he scuppered arguably an easier chance in the second half, putting the rebound from Mason Mount’s shot inexplicably wide.
The way Real Madrid set up on Tuesday – or the way Tuchel expects them to set up – may well dictate which Werner they face. If they sit back, he’ll have less space to operate in. If they push forward, he can run in behind. It’s not as though Los Blancos have many slow defenders, though.
It may be the case that Werner does not start at all. With options like Havertz, Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham to call upon to complement the almost-certain-starter Mount, Tuchel can shuffle his pack.