Chelsea resumed their defense of the Champions League trophy with the commencing of knockout round. The Blues completed a routine win over LOSC Lille in the round of 16 first leg at Stamford Bridge. Goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic in the either halves of the game respectively cushioned Chelsea with a two goal advantage. However, Tuchel lost two of his important players to injuries. Thomas Tuchel had to sub-off Mateo Kovacic then Hakim Ziyech in the second half of the game.
Speaking after his side’s comfortable win, Tuchel provided updates on the injuries of Kovacic and Ziyech. Chelsea has already experienced constant in and outs of their players due to injuries and coronavirus. Mason Mount’s ankle injury during the Club World Cup has since kept him out of Chelsea’s games. As a result Mount missed the Lille game too. Moreover, with the other midfielders under-performing Tuchel can certainly not afford another couple of injuries to crucial players.
Tuchel admits making wrong decision over Kovacic
In his post match press conference, Tuchel answered questions varying from Lukaku’s dropping to availability of players for next week’s League Cup final. The Blues face Liverpool in the League Cup final and Tuchel was clearly seen sweating over his important players’ availability. Moreover, the Chelsea manager confessed that he made a mistake in letting Kovacic play beyond the fist-half. Tuchel also spoke about Hakim Ziyech’s injury who was also subbed-off just before the hour mark.
“I don’t know on the injuries just yet,” said Tuchel. “I should have substituted Kova (Mateo Kovacic) earlier, perhaps at half-time, so we could have saved a change”. Further on Ziyech’s injury Tuchel commented, “I didn’t see Hakim’s injury and I haven’t spoken to the doctor for an update just yet”. The German also pointed out the problem with injuries and how it has hampered his plans. “It’s a little bit like the story of the season for us, doing substitutions for injuries instead of for tactical reasons. But today is Tuesday, the League Cup final is on Sunday so hopefully it won’t be too bad and we will have enough time to recover players in time for another big game.”
It started from Ben Chilwell who suffered an ACL injury in November which ended his season. Chelsea have since lost players due to injuries from time to time this season, denting their title hopes. Kovacic and Ziyech have only added to an already long list of players doubtful for Tuchel to select from. Reece James was in contention to make a comeback from his hamstring injury but is yet to regain match fitness. James also didn’t participate in the Lille game and remains a doubt for League Cup final. While the win brought some relief for Tuchel following Chelsea’s tiring display against Crystal palace, it certainly has also dragged some headache along with it.