Thomas Tuchel has confirmed only one of his squad will miss tomorrow’s match in Madrid due to injury.
Mateo Kovacic will not be on Monday afternoon’s flight to the Spanish capital ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg. The midfielder has been out since suffering a muscle injury in training the night before our previous match in the competition two weeks ago.
Speaking at his pre-match media conference on video from Cobham before travelling, Tuchel was asked for the latest injury update.
‘It is a very short update,’ he responded, ‘because it is only Mateo Kovacic we are missing. Everyone else is available and everyone else will be in the squad for tomorrow.
Tuchel quickly moved on to discussing the mood in that squad which is confident after a good win at West Ham at the weekend.
‘We liked the way we deserved this win in a crucial match again,’ he said. ‘We have now several matches at the highest level because we play in the most demanding league in the Europe, so we have it almost every three days. In these competitions there are crucial matches and we delivered and we performed and we showed our skills and mentality in all the matches we play at Tottenham and Liverpool, and in the knockouts against Atletico and Porto and so on, and now again against West Ham.
‘It is the best way to arrive in a Champions League match, with a crucial win on our back. It is another experience that we have in our luggage, and it makes the bond very strong and close and tomorrow we need clearly a top-level team performance when we fight with Real Madrid for a place in the final.’
Tuchel went on to explain that the experiences the players have together during these achievements are worth more than most words the coach can give as a boost to morale.
‘Every match I feel we are able to play on a very high level and if it is not possible to play our nicest match,' he continued, 'we are always able to not let our opponents play their best match, which is also the definition of performance, to not let the others perform.
‘I feel a strong bond within the squad and I feel us very involved physically in the games, ready work together and suffer together. If it is necessary to fight, we fight, if it is necessary to run, we run, if it is the moment to show your skills or to escape pressure with passing, or be dominant, we have in every match moments when we can do this.
‘The level is so high when you arrive in the semi-final of the Champions League. We should not expect crazy things from us but the same again on the highest level and we have the experience together, we have tough matches, tight and very important matches recently in Premier League and FA Cup.
‘It is a good moment to play this match and we want to play hungry and adventurous. We maybe lack a bit of experience in a semi-final but we can compensate with hunger and enthusiasm.’
Tuchel was also asked about Eden Hazard who Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane indicated today suffered no reaction to his return game on Saturday. Our head coach was asked if he has spoken to others around him at Chelsea about Hazard and whether he would prefer to play tomorrow with the Belgian in opposition or not.
He explained he had no view either way on that one, adding:
'Eden is a top-quality player and he was the key player here for many years, in the hardest league, so I have the biggest respect for him. Of course we talk a lot because he was a big player here and many people know him really well.
‘He is fit and he had a comeback in the last game for some minutes to be ready tomorrow. If he plays I am pretty sure he will want to make a point; let’s see. Real have so many quality players we have to face the challenge with confidence.’