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Tuchel to make late call on duo with doubts and preferred striker for Real

The boss looks forward to another huge week, with games against Real Madrid and Manchester City on the horizon...

Thomas Tuchel has two training sessions to make decisions about his starting line-up for the second leg of our Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and insists he will use all that time before making a final call regarding the involvement of Mateo Kovacic and Toni Rudiger, who both missed Saturday’s win against Fulham, as well as his options in attack.

The Blues collected an important three points in the south-west London derby as the race for a top-four finish heads into the final weeks, with Tuchel also able to rest the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic ahead of Wednesday’s European decider against the Spanish giants.

As a result of those changes, the boss admitted it was ‘not our brightest game’ but the rotation and result will no doubt have pleased him.

Of those who missed out on the squad altogether, Rudiger appears more likely to feature against Real, albeit with a mask to protect a facial injury sustained late on in Madrid.

Meanwhile, Kovacic faces a race against time to be involved against his former club after a setback in training on Friday.

‘For Toni, I think he will play with a mask,’ reported Tuchel. ‘He trained on Saturday with a mask so it’s just about him getting used to it.

‘It will be a very tight race for Kovacic. He had a little setback and felt something in not the same area but the same muscle as before. It’s very likely that he will not make it unfortunately.

‘We have two training sessions now to prepare for Real Madrid so it will be exciting. I’m very happy with this group in the semi-final. 

'We feel ready for a big fight and I’m pretty sure that we need a big performance because Real Madrid will give us a hard time.’

Kai Havertz’s two goals and generally impressive display up top against Fulham hands Tuchel a selection headache in the final third, particularly with Sergio Ramos expected to return for the reigning La Liga champions.

Yet the Chelsea head coach has yet to decide whether Real’s talisman being back in the heart of their defence will change his approach, even though he has clearly given it plenty of thought.

‘If we play with no striker at all and Ramos has nothing to fight then that can also be a solution,’ he added. ‘I have not made my mind up yet.

‘It’s another challenge because he is the leader of their group and he is the guy to give a lot of solutions to any questions that we will hopefully ask them.

‘We will wait and see who is in good shape and good form, what shape we play and where we try to hurt them. I’m not too sure if they will play again with five or go back to four [in defence] so there are many questions but we don’t need the answers now. It’s enough if we have them on Wednesday.’

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