Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Cesar Azpilicueta and Romelu Lukaku are big doubts for the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Real Madrid.
The Blues recently suffered 4-1 and 3-1 defeats to Brentford and Madrid respectively, but produced the perfect response with a stunning 6-0 league triumph over Southampton on the road.
It was a big statement on the back of two dismal results. There will be renewed optimism for Chelsea ahead of the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night.
Prior to the game, however, Tuchel has acknowledged that he is unsure over the availability of Azpilicueta and Lukaku, who were sidelined for the St Mary’s trip for different reasons.
Lukaku was ruled out of the game with an injury. Tuchel has now revealed that the Belgian had not been training, and was in too much pain to be involved against the Saints.
Elsewhere, club captain Cesar Azpilicueta was sidelined for the Saints encounter after testing positive for coronavirus. The duo are facing a race against time to be fit for Chelsea.
He told Chelseafc.com: “He [Lukaku] wasn’t in training yesterday, he was in too much pain. There is not a lot of time, we have only two training sessions, and we leave the country on Monday. We need to wait, I have no answer right now.”
The Blues have an eight-point cushion to fifth-placed Arsenal after yesterday’s win. With eight games left, they are in a solid position to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
However, their prime objective for now will be to defend their European title. While they were simply too good for the Saints, it will be a completely different challenge in Madrid.
The Saints had plenty of defensive flaws after struggling with their high press. Chelsea can’t anticipate something similar with Madrid, who were brilliant at Stamford Bridge.
Karim Benzema put Chelsea’s defence to the sword with a sublime hat-trick. It remains to be seen whether the Blues can script a stunning comeback to make the last four of the elite competition.