Tuchel confident Mendy will be fit for Champions League final
The goalkeeper was substituted at half-time in Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday after hurting a rib while colliding with the post in a failed attempt to prevent Bertrand Traore’s opening goal.
The Senegal international has been a revelation since signing from Rennes, conceding only three goals in his 11 Champions League games, while his deputy Kepa Arrizabalaga has endured a difficult spell since his world-record transfer to Chelsea. But Tuchel was reassured by the scan Mendy underwent and hopes he will be able to train tomorrow.
“Edou will play if he’s fit,” he said. “And if he’s not fit on Wednesday, we will try Thursday, and if not then we will try Friday. We will be reasonable and take responsibility for the decision. At the same time, we have trust if he can’t make it. We have a strong guy with Kepa on the bench who would take his place.
“So the race is on. We are happy the images didn’t show the injury was too serious. He made a huge improvement in the management of pain. So we are positive. But every hour and every day counts. Hopefully, the team around Edou and he himself can do enough that he is on the pitch. It would be a good boost for us.”
Tuchel joked that he will not ask Chelsea’s medical staff about N’Golo Kante, who came off in last week’s win over Leicester and sat out the Villa game.
“Maybe I will not speak to the doctors and physios so I hear no more doubts,” he smiled. “It looks good and I hope it stays like that.”
Tuchel has overseen two wins over Manchester City already in his brief reign and will use Tuesday to try and formulate his game plan in his quest for a hat-trick.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage but we are aware of it that we closed the gap to Man City in two games,” he said. “I think it helped us a lot to bond, grow and arrive with self-confidence. Man City are the benchmark in Europe and this league. We are the guys who want to hunt them and close the gap. We want to challenge them.”
His players will have a day off as he explained: “It is mental relaxation now because it was a tight schedule being in a race for top four and making it to the FA Cup final and the Champions League final. It was a huge task to fulfil.
“Mentally, tactically, this is my day to prepare for when the players come back on Wednesday,” he said. “They need a bit to breathe and then be full of joy because this is one of the most exciting weeks in their whole careers. This is a dream come true but I am not sure what the headlines will be.”
Chelsea has lost three of their last four games in all competitions, but Tuchel believes their performances have still been good enough to win as he reflected on the reality that defeat to Villa still brought Champions League qualification.
“It was the main objective and a big achievement from all the players,” he said. “It is a bit weird that the data and statistics we produced, the performances we produced, do not indicate it’s necessary to lose or logical to lose. We produce numbers in a defeat that we should be the deserved winners,” he added. “It is a strange situation because we hate to lose and are never happy and for us luckily it will never feel good.”
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