How Mason Mount perfected the half turn: A Short Analysis

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When Thomas Tuchel replaced Lampard as head coach of Chelsea Football Club in January 2021, many struggled to envision how Mason Mount would fit into his plans. However, after an excellent second half to the season for both player and club, in which Chelsea secured 4th place in the Premier League and a subsequent Champions League triumph versus City in the final, few would have doubts to whether Mount belongs at the top level now.

Tuchel has predominantly utilised Mount in the number 10 position and it is his ability to receive the ball on the half turn and then play defence breaking passes onto the forwards which proved to be pivotal for Chelsea’s attack last season.

What is the half turn?

The half turn is when a player is able to receive the ball with their back foot and simultaneously turn at least 90 degrees in the opposite direction of the received pass. It is a difficult trait  to master but one which all elite midfielders have done (eg. Xavi, Modric, Busquets etc.).

How Mount utilises the half turn

The following sequence of pictures is taken from Chelsea’s first leg win over Porto in the Quarter-Final stage of the Champions League.

In the picture above, you can see that Jorginho has received the ball at his feet and is now looking to progress the ball up the pitch. Meanwhile Mount has scanned the area behind him and has noticed that the opposition defender has followed him, leaving behind space which he can exploit.

Mount then receives the ball from Jorginho on his back foot and simultaneously performs a half turn which completely catches the defender off guard which then allows him to exploit the space left behind. 

Mount went to score the opener in a crucial quarter-final tie for the Blues via this move which one again highlights how pivotal Mount’s new trait is for his club. 

How the ‘half turn’ benefits Chelsea

Mason Mount has predominantly played in the number 10 position for Chelsea under Tuchel and this is where his new learned trait comes in handy for the Blues.

As the sequence above shows, Mount receives the ball from a midfielder in the number 10 position, this drags the opposition center back out of position which leaves space behind that can be exploited. By receiving the ball on the half turn and then laying it onto one of his strikers (eg. Werner) he has successfully broken the defensive line which allows the pacey Werner to exploit the space left behind, with which he can either run and score or lay the ball onto the second striker (number 11 on the sequence above). This is a very useful way of counter attacking the opposition and Mount’s ability on the half turn is the key to all this.