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UEFA Europa League: Can improving Jorginho turn jeers into cheers for Chelsea?

12:50 PM EDT 5/8/19
The Italian midfielder was to blame for the Eintracht Frankfurt goal but later turned up with a stellar display, much like his fortunes this season...

After going a goal down in the first leg of their 2018-19 UEFA Europa League semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt, a few Chelsea players pulled up their socks for good. While Jorginho was one of them, it was a Pedro Rodriguez goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw.

With the tie wide open, the focus would be on Jorginho, easily the most divisive player at Chelsea ever since he joined the club along with head coach Maurizio Sarri.

At the Waldstadion last week, Jorginho's performance on the night reflected the curve in his Chelsea career this season. It was the Italian midfielder that was beaten aerially near the centre-circle by Mijat Gacinovic during the move which resulted in the opening goal. Moreover, Luka Jovic easily went past a backtracking Jorginho and turned home a Filip Kostic cross.

The 27-year-old was a transformed player in the second half. After a collision with Sebastian Rode, which forced him to play the rest of the game with a headband, Jorginho carried out his duties as the defensive screen in midfield brilliantly, earning rare plaudits from the Chelsea faithful.

In fact, Jorginho has been put under the microscope the entire season. World Cup winner N'Golo Kante was shifted to the right of the midfield three to accommodate Jorginho in the holding role. With fans and pundits breathing down Sarri's neck, the former Napoli man neither excelled in the defensive midfield nor as a 'regista' initially.

Jorginho was tagged 'one-dimensional', with over 100 touches per game without an assist to his name. His style of play was predictable as 'Sarriball' turned into 'Sorryball'.

Jorginho's growing influence is also related to how Kante has been easing into his new role. His ability to build smooth transitions from defence to attack helps Chelsea maintain a fast tempo. He has averaged 85.2 passes per game, a figure which is the best in Europe this season.

Jose Mourinho recently hailed Jorginho as the best midfielder in Europe and his late-season surge has been proving many doubters wrong as he has remained a mainstay in Sarri's plans the entire season despite struggling initially.

As Chelsea chase another European final night, all eyes will be on Jorginho to string the Chelsea midfield together to overcome the German challenge at Stamford Bridge.

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