Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that tomorrow night’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid will come too soon for Mateo Kovacic.
The Croatian has been sidelined since injuring himself ahead of our quarter-final win over Porto and although our German head coach was hopeful of Kovacic returning for this game, the boss revealed at his pre-match press conference that the midfielder will not be able to feature against his former side.
There is better news, however, on Toni Rudiger, who is available for selection and will wear a protective mask against the La Liga side if selected.
‘I can give you the status right now which is that Mateo will not be in the squad,’ Tuchel confirmed.
‘I think Toni will be fine to play with a mask and he trained with us yesterday. Everyone else trained yesterday too and will be out training with us later today.
‘Hopefully we will have no new injuries from today’s training, so that means everyone is available for the match except for Mateo Kovacic.’
The Blues head into this crunch second leg level pegging but with an away goal under our belts courtesy of Christian Pulisic, following the 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital a week ago.
Tuchel believes there is more to come from his side and that his players will head into tomorrow night’s showdown at Stamford Bridge with the belief they can reach the Champions League final and follow Chelsea Women, who did exactly that by beating Bayern Munich over the weekend.
‘We feel we can do this,’ added Tuchel ‘They [Chelsea Women] did it after a difficult first leg and showed belief.
‘We feel we can be stronger. Now we have rested players, we had three days in between games for rest, the challenge is to keep the intensity going throughout the whole match.
‘It is a semi-final. The pressure is on, it’s a knockout game and so to arrive with a level of belief and confidence is necessary, or we will have no chance.’
The boss was also asked about whether discussions had taken place with regards to a new long-term contract at Chelsea…
‘No, nothing on that,’ confirmed Tuchel. ‘It is not the right time. There is no time for this right now.’