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Every Word Thomas Tuchel Said Ahead of Chelsea's Champions League Clash With Zenit St Petersburg

Thomas Tuchel addressed the media ahead of Chelsea's Champions League clash with Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday night.

Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their 3-2 defeat to West Ham on Saturday when they travel to cold Russia to face Zenit in matchday six in Group H.

Tuchel's side have the chance to clinch top spot heading into the knockout stages but will need to better Juventus' result against Malmo. A win for the Blues will ensure they win the group.


Here's what the Chelsea boss had to say in full in his pre-match press conference:

On rotation vs Zenit:

“Yeah it is. The decisions are not made yet because we just had another good training. We had a bit of an acute overload due to injuries and the schedule. The schedule is the schedule, we can handle it but due to our injuries like in central midfield where we have guys out like Trevoh, we struggle a little bit in defence and have some overloaded players. The game tomorrow isolated is not the problem in terms of being overloaded. It is more the game coming up on Saturday again because we played the early match on Saturday vs West Ham. We have an evening game vs Zenit on Wednesday, this gives us time. The guys look fresh, they are ready tomorrow. We can let any one of the 17 players plus goalkeepers to play. The problem is the next match on Saturday. We lose time to sleep, we arrive in the very early morning on Thursday then Saturday we face an intense team of Leeds who prepare the whole week. Long story short, there is a huge chance we rest some players. Maybe more important, we give some players who need the load and the minutes, to give them rhythm. The decisions will be made tomorrow, there’s a huge chance for that.”

On excitement to sort out Chelsea form:

“It is like this. I feel it also personally like you have a certain anger in you that you don’t have when you win. There is a certain anger and ambition to turn things around. This makes you at first feel very bad but brings out the need for you personally to step up and show a reaction. We try to avoid it because everybody hates to lose but it happened. Like I said after the game and when we analysed the datas and performance, I don’t think it’s necessary to ask the big questions. We need to step up in details and do our details to our standards. We need to do this on the highest level and do it relentlessly. No matter what the result is, what the occasion is or how big the adversity is. We have some space where we can improve in the details but it is not about the big picture in the moment.”

On N’Golo Kante slowing down with age & injuries:

“No. Me personally, I am not so careful when to bring him back. It is a very open relationship with him/ He takes care about this, he needs his time. We don’t have the feeling it is about age he takes longer. He is a careful person, he takes care of his body and doesn’t take risk. I think he is Superman. He is the guy who makes the difference, the guy everybody in the whole world wants in his midfield. We miss him for a long time. Can we produce results and top performances without N’Golo? We can. We proved it already. It’s easier if he is not out for too many weeks. We built him up after his last injury. We had an accident, this can happen. This is not related to age or overload, simply an accident during the match. Happened against Juventus, of course we miss him a lot.”

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On Saul Niguez:

“He is one of the guys who needs rhythm, who needs minutes. He is not the only guy. He is always in our thinking. We always reflect on every single training session, performance and form. So he is one of the guys we think about, of course. I think that he struggled a bit with intensity. He was also a bit unlucky, he played against Aston Villa, Southampton and Watford. All three, if you look at the data, were high intensity games. Also, above the average in terms of Premier League games. That did not suit his main qualities. We try to encourage him because he grows into Chelsea more and more. We will not stop to try and bring out the best, to help him to help us help the team. There is a high possibility he can prove it tomorrow and we will help him.”

On high pressing in recent games vs Watford & West Ham:

“I think we have a lot of solutions for it. I agree with the Watford game, not so much West Ham. I felt us more in control in the opponent’s half. We had a lot of changes in the Watford game first of all, so we could feel this was a mix of players that never played with each other. We lacked a bit of rhythm and good positioning, of speed in our decision making. We were not used to playing with each other in general. We have to constantly be on our highest level. Teams try to press us high. We had games, many games where teams tried and we found good solutions. It is the mistake we did now against Watford and West Ham is in a high pressing moment but it is still like, if you see Jorginho doing a mistake like this, we do not have a structural or behavioural problem. It is more a technical or decision making problem. This refers to mental or fatigue. If you see now for example, Jorginho is out for this back pain. You know, he played with back pain in West Ham. He played because we miss Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante for such a long time. This is what I meant. Sometimes you overload, overplay players. Especially with Jorgi, he comes from the Euros and Champions League. He comes with no pre-season into Euro Cup final. We knew in some weeks he would face maybe a dip of freshness and form. In the moment it happens, absolutely natural that our two main other midfielders are out for injury. This is maybe where our problems refer to but still we can do better. We can improve in the details, also in every aspect of the game and the build up in our own half.”

On Mateo Kovacic not training:

“We have bad news. Mateo was in training yesterday with a big smile and a pure pleasure to have him back. He got tested positive today for Corona so he is isolating. Current headache. He is out for another several days, a huge setback for him personally and for all of us.”

On Coronavirus infection rate:

“Yeah. I was aware of it, that this can happen. I am absolutely not happy that is happening. Not only as a manager but as a person. This is what reality is at the moment. We have to face it and be ready to adapt, to secure health and do the best thing possible to avoid contamination.”

On difficulties to deal with high pressure games with no time and injuries/Covid related issues:

“Yes and no. Injuries of course, it is not only that one player is missing. It has an effect on other players playing more in an acute overload. No, because we can handle a schedule like this.It is a huge difference in the detail to have three games in a week, two games in a week is not a problem. It is a huge difference if you place Saturday to Wednesday, a home game tomorrow then a Saturday game. It changes your lineup because you can not be sure everybody recovers. If you know we have a long trip, we sit in the bus, we sit in the plane and have time difference, we will arrive late at night or early morning. This affects automatically your lineup for Saturday. This is daily business. What we wish for is more opportunities to switch players, to rest players, to change certain positions. Then it gets uncomfortable if you have key players out for too long. This is what we do on a daily basis. Even if we are very likely to have some changes tomorrow, we will prepare the team to win this game. We will arrive with the will to win, nothing else. We will push forward and stay positive, not let our mood be affected by circumstances we cannot influence.”

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