Mauricio Pochettino was quite proactive with his substitutions yesterday, using two before the second half had even begun and making all five with enough time left in regulation for everyone to actually make an impact. And sure enough, Mykhailo Mudryk made the most of his quarter hour on the pitch, nicking the equalizer in stoppage time and then converting his penalty in the shootout as well to help us book a place in Wednesday’s semifinal draw.
Pochettino was asked about his two early moves in the post-match press conference, with the head coach confirming that the removal of Enzo Ferández was indeed injury-enforced (well, illness-enforced) but that the half-time change that saw Levi Colwill depart was more of a tactical switch.
“[Enzo] asked to go out because he was a little bit sick before the game. He suffered some problems with his stomach. He wanted to play, he said, ‘okay, see if it’s going well’. Rather than well it went not so well and that is why.”
“Levi was more because my perception was at the end of the first half is that he was a little bit tired. We wanted to put some more offensive players like Malo and to provide more energy in the side. That was why. Also the option of Malo in the second half to continue to play with Levi Colwill but he is going to be ready. It’s nothing, it was only a bit tired in my perception, to change the way we were playing.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
It’s always a risk when coaches decide to play half-fit players, though with five substitutions available these days, the risk is somewhat mitigated. And thankfully the players who came on, Armando Broja for Enzo and Malo Gusto for Colwill (even playing a bit of left back as well), both made important contributions to our eventual comeback.
And the best news is that neither Enzo nor Colwill suffered an actual injury, so hopefully a bit of rest, and some extra fluids will help them recover and get ready for Christmas Eve.
Though it should be noted that at least one report out of Argentina claims that Enzo’s dealing with the early stages of a chronic groin injury (“pubalgia” a.k.a. sports hernia) instead of just illness. That’s not great, if true. We might recall Mason Mount dealing with this problem (or something very similar) just last year, while Cesc Fàbregas played through one (though with a significant drop in form) in the final days of his Barcelona return just before signing with Chelsea. Sports hernias are very common things, but they do need addressing sooner rather than later.
Enzo Fernández tiene un principio de pubalgia. La recuperación es con descanso o tratamiento para disminuir la molestia cuando juega y que no lo afecte.— Gastón Edul (@gastonedul) December 19, 2023