Trap games don’t get much trappier than this.
In-between two legs of a massive Champions League semifinal, our first ever meeting with Real Madrid on Europe’s biggest stage, against a team on a terrible run of form and pretty much already relegated, who can barely score goals but play good and skillful football, in a West London Derby that may be more friendly than most derbies but still carries extra meaning, with the need for squad rotation and fitness management but still a must-win situation, and on the back of
three two games without a win at the Bridge (2-5 vs West Brom, 0-1 vs Porto, 0-0 vs Brighton) ... despite all that, Chelsea walked away with a pretty straightforward 2-0 win thanks to what head coach Thomas Tuchel called afterwards a “spot on” performance.
“We were spot on. It was what we demanded from ourselves. We showed the pride we are capable of — to do it in between two big games. I’m beyond happy that we did it. There was no lack of concentration. We had some trouble which everyone against this Fulham side has but there was no lack of concentration and that was key.”
Chelsea could’ve made the game even more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline would indicate, but by scoring early in either half, it was still a mostly anxiety-free 90 minutes for us despite the importance of these three points in the fight for the top-four (or top-three).
“We knew Fulham gives everyone a hard time. They make you under-perform and they make you suffer. You cannot get confused with the table. That’s why I have the highest respect for what we did today. It was tough for us but we hang in the game. We could decide the match earlier but it was a tough and a very important win.”
Perhaps the only negative aspect of the match today — other than more wasteful finishing — were the (potential) knocks picked up by Mason Mount (foot, back) and Édouard Mendy (head), but Tuchel’s hopeful that we won’t have any problems for Wednesday’s second leg showdown against Real Madrid. We’re already sweating on Mateo Kovačić (seems unlikely) and Antonio Rüdiger, who was given the day off to recover from his knock from the first leg.
“I hope really that Mason [Mount] is not a big thing and hopefully he can fully recover for Real Madrid.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Sky via BBC
Let’s hope so!