Thomas Tuchel’s pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup Round of 16 match against Luton Town was dominated by incessant questioning about the war in Ukraine and Roman Abramovich and other such issues well beyond anything specifically football related — much to the frustration of all involved, especially the Chelsea head coach himself, who eventually snapped at the gathered provokers.
All that aside, we did eventually find out some more immediately pertinent news as well, with Tuchel revealing further frustrations with our once again growing injury list.
“The situation was very good before the final because we had only Ben Chilwell out but the situation changed dramatically. We have a lot of players with physical overloads and we have some injuries from the match.
“It’s actually too much to comment about. It would be a long list so we need to see. We had training today, the physios and doctors are still working with the players and finding out. We can take the last decisions tomorrow morning when we have the departure to Luton and see who’s ready to play.”
With information limited, we can only surmise what all that means exactly, but it sounds like at the very least Hakim Ziyech will not be ready to play, while others like Reece James will likely be given some recovery time. Cesar Azpilicueta, who was forced off with injury on Sunday probably won’t be back either.
“[Reecey] was on brilliant form but now with a huge overload on his shoulders. The recommendation was 20 minutes before the match and it was over 70 minutes in a final with extra tension and pressure.
“Hakim is not available for tomorrow as he was not available for the final unfortunately. He still feels uncomfortable and was not in team training today so he’s one of the guys who will miss the game tomorrow.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
Regardless of who can and ends up playing, Tuchel expects the team to not have any significant hangover from Sunday’s dramatics. We expended a lot of physical, emotional, and mental effort over the course of those 120 minutes and 22(!) penalties in the shootout, but now it’s time to forget all that, take whatever positives we can from it, and focus on the next challenge at hand.
“Lifting the team after Sunday should not be too hard. I think that everybody knows we played a strong match, played to our characteristics and identity. We played with full commitment and a lot of quality.
“[But] it’s only two days [between matches]. We gave the players a day off to clear our minds, because it was not only a disappointment but it was physically draining and demanding for us. So it leaves us with a one-day turnaround to be ready tomorrow because this is what it’s about.
“It’s the next competition and the next round and this is life at Chelsea. We want to be competitive in different competitions, so we have to be ready tomorrow. [...] This is what we do and what we demand from myself, everybody around the team, and lastly the players.”
Obviously there are far bigger issues going on in the world, and, in a very minor way, with the team itself, but there’s only so much we can do on a football pitch to solve the world’s problems.
“There is a huge distraction going on and we are worried, but we still try to create an atmosphere to come to work and focus on our work which is our passion. We are very, very grateful and privileged to have it. It’s not that big a problem [from a work perspective] but everybody in Europe, more or less, has some noise in their heads that nobody likes.
“It’s maybe the same for you, but still you try to do your job as well as possible and it’s the same for us. [We] try to be calm and we are calm in the centre of a storm, of some noise around us that we cannot control and we are also not responsible for. It’s best to stay calm and focus on what we love and what we do and this is sport.
“I think we have a right to focus on sports, the players have a right to be focused. [...] There is a big situation out there [and] I think everybody is aware that there are more important things and the situation in Ukraine is much more important that the game in football.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
We can only hope that the world will one day return to some semblance of normalcy, if that’s even possible.