Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten as Chelsea head coach, and that eight-match streak now includes a significant result on the European stage as well after last night’s momentous 1-0 win over La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16.
The scoreline itself may be far from impressive, but it was as cagey of a match as anyone might have expected given Atlético’s reputation, and Tuchel was certainly full of praise for his charges after grinding out the all-important away win. But the boss-man was also more pleased with his own decisions, especially compared to the ones he made over the weekend in the 1-1 draw against Southampton.
And it wasn’t just the whole substitution brouhaha with Hudson-Odoi. In fact, Tuchel was being quizzed about Olivier Giroud when he had his moment of introspection.
“No, it was not [that we saved Giroud for Atlético]. We thought long and hard about putting him in [against Southampton]. It was clearly a possibility that he starts against Southampton [after scoring versus Newcastle], then we analysed them and they are a very aggressive team and they press and play high up the pitch. So we expected more spaces behind the last line and we wanted more runs from deep.
“I had only three changes because in our league it is only possible to have three changes. I wasn’t too happy in my decisions in the game against Southampton.
“Maybe we missed the opportunity to bring him on at the end. But then I can say I saved him for today.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Tuchel does say decisions (plural) rather than just the singular decision of not putting on Giroud and instead using his final two subs on Saturday to make changes that had just about zero impact on the game — and had every impact on the post-match headlines and coverage thanks to the removal of Hudson-Odoi after just 30 minutes.
But hey, it’s all about learning and improving.