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Chelsea vs Zenit – Pre-match briefing

Chelsea Head Coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed the duo of Pulisic and Kante will miss Champions League opener against Zenit on Tuesday. Tuchel admitted it would be difficult for Chelsea to win the Champions League this season, but insisted they would definitely give their best in the competition.

Having replaced Frank Lampard in early January, Thomas Tuchel sparked a remarkable turnaround at Chelsea by helping the team finish in top four, reach the FA Cup final, and win the Champions League. Speaking to reporters Tuchel admitted he had no problems in continuing the impressive work Frank Lampard had done during the Champions League group stages last season. The German added “It was never a problem for me to accept the work from Frank that he did throughout the group stage.”

But it still feels like my title – it does not feel like half a Champions League that I won. In the moment of the final I was responsible, and during the knockout games, so it felt like my team and that we were together.”

Do I have something to prove, that I can bring teams through the group stage? No. This has nothing to do with it. We want to win it again but we need to accept how tough this is. Nobody is shy here to admit that we fight for any competition we play in. We want to have a good start tomorrow and we need to start from scratch.

Tuchel also revelaed Ben Chilwell might be ready for some action after last playing a competitive game in the Champions League final. The England international did not play a single minute at the Euros tournament, and was resigned to the bench at Chelsea as Marcos Alonso was preferred in the left-back position. Speaking on Chilwell’s lack of game time Tuchel admitted it has been difficult for the left-back, but insisted the England international is ready to to play games. He added “He came from a Champions League win, 90 minutes, a strong performance and a good end to the season in general. He played a lot of minutes for us in many important games, at a high level.”

“Then it was individually for him a tough Euros, because there were chances where he thought he could have played. I know it was a tough one, because you feel a part of the team, but you don’t feel it really if you don’t sweat it out on the pitch and if you never wear the shirt. It’s a strange feeling, also to keep training for four or five weeks continuously.”

He had a break and it was hard for him to totally relax and get this disappointment off his shoulders. When he arrived here, I felt him a bit mentally tired, still worrying about the situation.”

At the same time, he was very unlucky because Marcos was here the whole pre-season and he took this opportunity with such a huge quality and attitude. Marcos was crucial for us from the first day in training and then he delivered in Chilly’s position.”

We had some talks with Chilly about the situation. He knows I would have done the same thing if it was the other way around – to trust him if he was here and showed personality and attitude like Marcos did.”

There are no further worries for Chilly. He just needed to be a bit patient and keep training. It took some time – we had to give him a little bit of time to be more patient with himself, to find the joy again and to find things a little bit more easy on the pitch and to not want to force it too hard.”

But he’s in the race now. He’s in good shape so he can play any minute.”

Source: Sky Sports

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