Thomas Tuchel admitted in his post-match press conference following Wednesday’s defeat to Real Madrid, that he was unable to explain Chelsea’s recent collapse in form.
Tuchel suggested that the tie is already over when bluntly answering the first question of the conference on whether the tie is “still very much alive”, Tuchel responded, “no, not at the moment, no”. He then added that his side, “have to find our level back, I don’t know where it is, but since [the] international break, the first half is a repetition of the second half against Brentford in a quarter-final against Real Madrid – so far off our level”.
One of the key matchups early in the game was down Chelsea’s right-hand side. Reece James lined up in his vastly familiar right wing-back role, with Andreas Christensen occupying the right-hand side of a back-three – nothing unfamiliar for either player or the rest of the Chelsea squad. But as Reece James began to enjoy spells further up the pitch, Real Madrid starlet, Vinicius Jr. was given the freedom to torment Christensen on one-on-one, causing the Dane a torrid time defensively.
When asked about this matchup, and Tuchel’s subsequent decision to hook Christensen along with N’Golo Kante at halftime, the German simply responded, “yeah, it was my mistake”. Tuchel then reverted back to a more conventional back-four, with James dropping deeper into the right-back role, appearing to alleviate some of the pressure caused by Madrid down Chelsea’s right side in the second half.
Ultimately, it is conceding goals that will be of the greatest concern to Tuchel and Chelsea. “Since five days, obviously seven goals conceded, I don’t know. We did not change [anything] – not in the approach, not in the lineups not in the system, so I don’t think there is a deeper reason for it. It’s alarming”.
Chelsea have mostly looked a very solid team since Tuchel took over as manager, so fans will undoubtedly be concerned by the last two results, and in particular that their German coach seems at a loss to explain this sudden dip in performances.