Thomas Tuchel has explained why Olivier Giroud and Andreas Christensen were absent from his starting XI this evening.
Chelsea are in Champions League round of 16 action this evening, taking on Atletico Madrid in the second leg at Stamford Bridge having won 1-0 in the first leg, in Romania.
The hero of that first leg was striker Giroud, who many believed could be in line for a return to the Chelsea starting lineup this evening given his impressive performance in that first game, which yielded a stunning overhead kick winner.
But the Frenchman was placed on the bench, with Timo Werner starting up top, and fans were also surprised to see Christensen absent from the starting XI and the bench, with the centre-back having impressed since Tuchel‘s arrival.
But while the decision was tactical in the case of Giroud, there is an explanation for Christensen’s omission.
“We have Oli from the bench, five guys to come from the bench and have a huge impact. Oli is one of them, we have Timo up front with a lot of speed,” Tuchel explained to BT Sport ahead of kick-off.
“Hopefully, we can create trouble with quick runs and using his speed, they maybe feel more comfortable to fight against a strong guy like Oli, so hopefully we can make an advantage out of that.
He added: “Andreas is unfortunately ill overnight and no need to panic – no coronavirus, we’ve had a negative test for him. He got ill unfortunately and has a little bit of fever and does not feel good, Zouma takes his place.”
Speaking about the danger La Liga leaders Atletico pose, Tuchel continued: “They have three big players back with Trippier, Gimenez and Carrasco, which gives them the opportunity to attack a little bit more with Llorente on the half position.
“At the same time, we lack some big personalities and some big qualities, so the cycle closes now, it’s no help to think about the first-leg, but we feel strong, we rely on our strengths.
“We want to play a high intensity game to put them to their limits and it’s clear before that you need two top level games to go through.”
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The Chelsea boss was also asked about how the 1-0 win in the ‘away leg’ in Romania could impact on the mindset of his players heading into this one.
“Hopefully not at all because you cannot reflect too much on the result. If we keep thinking about the result, we stop thinking about the process,” he said.
“We have to be in the game on a level like this, against a team like this, you cannot think – you just have to do. Hopefully, we are not influenced from the first result.”