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‘No regrets’: Tuchel explains Kepa decision, takes blame if you feel need to give blame

Not written in the stars

Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

In a cruel way, it was almost poetic. The specialist we brought on specifically to save penalties, who had performed those exact same feats of strength and fate in two previous rounds already, fails to save a single penalty in eleven tries, then goes on to miss the decisive kick to consign Chelsea to defeat in the League Cup final.

Nothing written in the stars last night, except maybe Kepa’s goal kick penalty in low orbit. Twenty-one had gone in. The twenty-second did not. There may be a joke about a redemption arc and the ball’s parabolic path in here, too.

Anyway, if you had paid any attention to Chelsea this season — which evidently rules out at least half the people on TV and in media paid to comment on last night’s game — Tuchel’s decision to put on Kepa for the final minute of extra-time and thus penalties in place of (a quite oustanding) Édouard Mendy should not have been surprising. We saw the same thing in the Super Cup already, and had talked all season about Kepa’s prowess in the shootout and Mendy’s relative inferiority in that regard (Africa Cup of Nations final aside).

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as well as did before. There’s a reason they call it a lottery after all.

Tuchel was still asked after the game to explain his decision, which meant that at one point he even had explain to a presumably incredulous questioner that yes, this was in fact the plan and it was in fact discussed beforehand, with both goalkeepers, even. Inconceivable!

“We took the decision like we did last time in a penalty shootout because Kepa is training with the players [for penalties] on a daily basis and they know how good he is. He has simply more time on the training ground to do this than Edou, who plays a lot more. Everyone knows how good he is, how difficult it is to shoot [against him] and this plays a huge part in how we shot today.

“Unfortunately, he couldn’t make a save — their penalties were brilliantly taken — and it was a bit harsh on him that he was the guy to miss the one and only penalty, but there is no blame.”

“You think we do this and not talk to the players? The players know and we did it before and it is a nice subject now for you to make headlines. [But] if you want to blame someone, blame me. I took the decisions and I don’t take them to be the hero. We have reasons. I try to explain the reasons.

“It was not the first time and today it took eleven penalties to find a winner there are no regrets, if you want to blame somebody, blame me, it is no problem.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

We had many great chances to win last night’s game, long before extra-time or penalties. That makes the defeat even more annoying, but it is what it is. We take it on the chin and we move on. Stronger, together.

Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images