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Monday, March 8, 2021

Injury-plagued Chelsea set for Atletico Madrid challenge in Bucharest

Chelsea is looking to bounce back from their disappointment of Sunday fast ahead of tonight’s clash with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Thomas Tuchel’s side dropped points for only the second time under his watch as they drew 1-1 with Southampton on Saturday.

The Blues are now unbeaten in seven games since the German took charge, winning five of those. But failure to beat the Saints means they missed the chance to close the gap on Manchester United and Leicester City, who both recorded Sunday victories.

There is no time to rest though, with Champions League action returning this week with Chelsea heading to Bucharest to play an away tie against Atletico.

Chelsea was once again without centre-back Thiago Silva for the clash with the Saints as he continues to recover from a muscle injury.

The former Paris Saint-Germain ace was forced off in the victory over Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month and has missed the last three matches since.

Ahead of the game at St Mary’s, Tuchel confirmed: “Thiago will be out for the game, he’s not ready for the game.”

After picking up a minor injury in training ahead of the 1-0 win over Spurs, it was first thought that attacking-midfielder Havertz would just miss the showdown with Jose Mourinho’s side.

However, the former Bayer Leverkusen man missed four games on the bounce, with the win over Newcastle coming too soon for the Germany international. He was passed fit to face the Saints.

“Kai Havertz is back in training and can join us in Southampton,” Tuchel said in his pre-match press conference.

But the attacking midfielder didn’t make the matchday squad.

Pulisc has struggled with injury throughout this season and his battle for fitness goes on.

The American featured against Barnsley in the cup but dropped to the bench for the win over Newcastle.

He was always likely to miss the Southampton game with Tuchel revealing: “There are some issues with the calf of Christian Pulisic, nothing big, just feels tight. He’s had a bit of soreness, so there’s a big question-mark for Christian.”

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The biggest talking point from the game at St Mary’s was Tuchel’s decision to bring Hudson-Odoi on at halftime, only to haul him off with 15 minutes remaining.

Speaking after the game, the German confirmed it was not injury-related.

“No injury. In a game that it is hard to create chances, you need to rely on counter-pressing to maybe force errors, to get a second ball and get an easy chance,” Tuchel said in his post-match press conference.

“For that, you need to be totally on and totally sharp. I didn’t feel this from Callum today.

“He missed chances to counter-press, lost some easy balls. I had the feeling he was never really into the game. You know I trust him a lot because he plays every game for us but today I was close to him and I don’t know, maybe it was unfair, but I didn’t get the feeling today that I normally get from him because he can be decisive.

“It was a hard decision but nothing that will stick between us or stick for long. Tomorrow it will be forgotten and we will prepare for Atletico.”

Meanwhile, Abraham and Mateo Kovacic were also substituted for tactical reasons.

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