Thomas Tuchel to bench star Chelsea players for Super Cup clash

Champions League winners take on Villarreal in Belfast on Wednesday

Thomas Tuchel will bench some of his Champions League winners for the Super Cup after ruling that they are not fit enough to play the whole game.

Chelsea face Villarreal in Belfast on Wednesday and could start without half of the side who beat Manchester City in Porto because they only returned to training last week after their summer international exploits.

Thiago Silva played for Brazil in the Copa America on July 10 and Jorginho and Mason Mount started the Euro 2020 final the next day, while Ben Chilwell and Reece James were also in the England squad and captain Cesar Azpilicueta was a semi-finalist with Spain.

And Tuchel is set to turn to players who began pre-season training earlier, explaining: “They have eight days of training and a European final after eight days is pretty demanding. It is too early to compete for 90 minutes and it can even be extra time. Clearly the guys who came in early and have more minutes deserve to start.”

Tuchel won the Champions League four months into his tenure at Chelsea and then signed a two-year contract. He has urged his players to use the European glory as a springboard to further success.

“The journey is not over,” he said. “It has just started and hopefully it is going to be a long journey. Does anybody have a recipe how to do better after Champions League trophy? I don’t know, this is my first win. The courage is to step up and keep on demanding. We have to rebuild the same spirit that put us in the position to have these results.”

Romelu Lukaku is close to sealing a £98 million move from Inter Milan, though Tuchel suggested the deal will not be completed in time for him to play, adding:  “I am absolutely not in the position to announce anything and I will maybe refuse to talk about as we are in a matchday mind.”

But defender Antonio Rudiger was happier to praise Lukaku, who he believes will be a high-class addition. “He is a beast, he is very strong and he showed it in Italy in the last two years, he did very well and also for his national team,” said the German. “A goalscorer and a top striker.”

Rudiger has entered the last year of his contract. Tuchel has said he is keen to keep his compatriot, who excelled in the second half of last season and Rudiger added: “Talks have begun and we will see what time brings.”

But Tammy Abraham, who is a potential departure, is in the squad and could feature. The striker only started two league games under Tuchel and is a reported target for Roma. Tuchel added: “He was clearly not happy with the last half a year and maybe he has reason not to be happy and maybe it was also my fault not to push him and trust him on the level as others. I can understand that he wants more minutes.”

Updated: August 10th 2021, 4:43 PM
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