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Kovacic out, Rudiger in as Tuchel looks to emulate Hayes and reach Champions League final

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Fitness updates from the boss!

Chelsea Training and Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea's quest for a fourth-place finish and a Champions League spot next season took a positive step by bagging all three points against Fulham on the weekend.

The other route of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is of course by winning it this season and Chelsea are just one game away from reaching the final. The Blues hold a slight away-goal advantage over Real Madrid following a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week.

Navigating past Real, seemingly the perennial winners of this competition, still won’t be easy, especially as Chelsea will still be without Mateo Kovacic, who needs more time to recover after re-aggravating his hamstring. Tuchel will have Antonio Rudiger available however, and sporting the mask of Zorro.

"Mateo will not be in the squad. 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."

Over the weekend, Chelsea also made some history by reaching our first ever Women’s Champions League final, overcoming a 2-1 first-leg deficit by beating Bayern Munich 4-1 at Kingsmeadow. It’s reward for a decade-long project by world class head coach Emma Hayes.

Tuchel hasn’t had quite as long to work with his team, but he’s hoping to take inspiration from Hayes & Co, and help us reach our third ever (men’s) Champions League final, and the first since winning our only Big Ears trophy in 2012.

The margin of error is close to nil, and we will need utmost focus, confidence, and belief from minute one tomorrow.

"We feel we can do this. 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."

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC

Tuchel's done a nearly flawless job since taking over after Frank Lampard's sacking, with a hold on fourth place in the league, a place in the FA Cup final, and a good chance to reach the Champions League final.

Let's book our tickets to Istanbul tomorrow!