Hakim Ziyech leaves Chelsea frustrated but highlights transfer target as Kai Havertz flounders


The World Cup is well underway with a mixture of upsets, impressive outings and boredraws already compelling and surprising across the groups. Groups E and F were next to get their tournaments underway with plenty of potential Chelsea interest.

Already Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount had got their tournaments off to winning ways, while Ethan Ampadu was a crucial component in Wales’ draw with USA. Edouard Mendy had a more difficult outing as he had some fault in Netherlands’ two goals against Senegal.

Tuesday was a quieter day for those connected to Chelsea, but former striker Olivier Giroud scored a brace which saw him tie Thierry Henry as France’s record scorer. With that said takes a look at how Mateo Kovacic, Hakim Ziyech, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku got on.

READ MORE : Josko Gvardiol matches Chelsea star’s record as ace proves part in Todd Boehly transfer vision

Mateo Kovacic

The Croatian played out a 0-0 draw against Morocco in Wednesday’s opening World Cup match in Group F and had a difficult outing against Hakim Ziyech’s team. The 28-year-old midfielder was challenged by an impressive press from the north African side and was unable to get on the ball as much as teammates Luka Modrc and Marcelo Brozovic, while Josko Gvardiol and Dejan Lovren were given a hefty workload in possession of the ball. Ultimately struggled to have much impact on the game.

Speaking to HRT Kovacic accepted the difficulties his side faced. He said: “The first match was difficult. The result was fair, there were no chances, we need to improve, but we’re going step by step . We lacked the determination to go forward. It’s the first game, we tried to control, without going too far. We’ll analyze this game and do better in the second.”

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech completed 90 minutes as he featured in Morocco’s opening World Cup match after looking very far away from doing so 12 months ago. With new coach Walid Regragui, the Chelsea star returned to the fold and was unsurprisingly in the starting line-up to take on Croatia.

The wide man had a lively start to the match combining with Achraf Hakimi as the duo looked to exploit Borna Sosa on Croatia’s left. His opportunities were generally prevented or cleaned up by Chelsea’s summer target Josko Gvardiol who had an impressive game, and Morocco struggled to create too many clear opportunities, however.

Ziyech still managed to record a high of two key passes in the game but too often failed to find his target with just a 61.3% completion rate.

He and Chelsea will have been hoping that the former Ajax man could put on some impressive performances in the World Cup ahead of January after failing to navigate a move in August. The 29-year-old has had few opportunities under Graham Potter, so the international competition could prove key to earning a transfer at the beginning of 2023.

Kai Havertz

Havertz was involved in the upset of the day for Germany as Japan came back from behind to win 2-1 in Group E. The Chelsea star led the German frontline but failed to produce one of his more convincing performance in an outing that Blues supporters may have found familiar this term. The 23-year-old did find the net in the opening half but was too easily caught offside, even if VAR took its time to realise, when he had time and space to not rush ahead in the Japanese box.

The forward was involved in a protest of sorts along with his teammates, as they covered their mouths to show they had been silenced by FIFA with Manuel Neuer not allowed to wear the OneLove armband he had intended to.

Cesar Azpilicueta

Chelsea’s captain slotted in on the right of defence for Spain and made up a back four along with Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Jordi Alba and played the full game against Costa Rica. The Spaniard delivered as many key passes as Pedri and more than the rest of his teammates during the game, as the 2010 World Cup winners overcame Costa Rica 7-0 and dominated possession.

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian enjoyed a frustrating start to the tournament and was not in the Red Devils squad against Canada as former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi started instead. Lukaku could be back in time for Belgium’s next game against Morocco on Sunday, however.

Coach Roberto Martinez said: “We’re very happy the way that he is progressing. He had a very good session yesterday, not with a group, but is progressing in a steady way.

“We haven’t got a timeline. I wouldn’t be able to tell if he’s going to be…

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