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Zsolt Lőw on Mason Mount, Reece James, Édouard Mendy, and dealing with Thomas Tuchel through technology

Pre-match press conference ahead of Club World Cup semifinal

Chelsea Training and Press Conference: FIFA World Club Cup Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea take on Al Hilal in the semifinals of the Club World Cup tomorrow, and while we have an almost fully fit squad at the ready, we are without the head coach, who continues to isolate back in London after testing positive for COVID-19.

Pre-match press conference duties were thus taken by assistant Zsolt Lőw. The last time a Hungarian person sat in the presser chair for a Chelsea match was when I took the stadium tour at Stamford Bridge a few years ago. Big day!

As far as team news, nothing unexpected was heard. Mount is a gametime decision; James is out; Mendy is joining soon (buy may not play right away); Ziyech will probably start; and Tuchel’s in constant communication.

“Mason is getting better and better every day. We are running with the time, but we will see how he moves today, how he feels today, and then we will take a last decision tomorrow.

“For Reece James, no, there is no chance he plays in the Club World Cup. He is in a very, very good way, but he missed still some days, some training sessions to enjoy the group again, or have the possibility to play the game.

“Mendy arrives later today or tomorrow. We will see how he is, how tired he is. He has to arrive first, we have to check him, we have to talk to him. We will see in a few days whether there is a possibility he plays. This is a good situation for the coaches where we have two amazing goalkeepers [...] we will have talks, also with the goalkeeper coaches, and we will take a decision afterwards.”

-Zsolt Lőw; source: Chelsea FC

Chelsea Training and Press Conference: FIFA World Club Cup Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Tuchel can be out of isolation by the weekend, provided he shows no symptoms and tests negative, but until then, he’s reduced to communicating via various electronic devices. It’s a good thing in this day and age, that’s a rather easy thing to do — even if it’s obviously very different still than being there in person.

“It is a big challenge that Thomas is not here but we try to make it as good as possible. We have a very good structured club here at Chelsea, we have a lot of support from different people at club.

“First of all Petr Čech [has] given us a lot of support and we’re very happy that he’s with us. We have very good medical staff, very good team management, a lot of support as coaching staff to help us carry on in this situation.

“We are still in contact with Thomas and he helps us how he can every day to prepare the training sessions, to prepare for team meetings. [He] is playing his part with messages and phone calls [...] the last few days were absolutely perfect. [But] Thomas is absolutely the coach who likes to be with the team and give a lot of energy for the team. So this is the challenge he has to deal with.”

-Zsolt Lőw; source: Chelsea FC

Hopefully Tuchel will be sending happy emojis after tomorrow’s game.

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