Chelsea: Tuchel suggests Champions League is up for grabs
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel can be forgiven for feeling a little apprehensive ahead of today’s FA Cup showdown with Manchester City. However, the Blues have been in fine form since his appointment in January and are daring to dream of making the final. So Express Sport will now take a look at the six players who simply have to start.
Chelsea were in trouble when Tuchel took over, looking like they may miss out on a place in next season’s Champions League.
And Azpilicueta was being written off as past his best, with the Spain international struggling for consistency.
However, since Tuchel came in, the veteran has been a player reborn.
He looks tailor-made for a back three system, getting back to the same brilliant form Antonio Conte coaxed from him.
And he’ll be given the job of nullifying City’s attack – a task that won’t be easy given the deadliness of Pep Guardiola’s side.
Frank Lampard didn’t seem to trust Antonio Rudiger at the start of the season.
The former Roma star spent the majority of the first half of the season stuck on the bench, looking in from the outside.
But one of Tuchel’s first acts as Chelsea manager was to bring him back in from the cold – a decision that’s proven to be a masterstroke.
Rudiger looks better than ever for the Blues this season.
And he’s expected to start alongside Azpilicueta in a back three, with either Kurt Zouma or Thiago Silva getting the nod as well.
Back in the summer, Chelsea spent big on signing Ben Chilwell.
Yet the England international has struggled under Tuchel – and that’s because of the impressive displays of Marcos Alonso.
The Spain international is another player who has thrived since the German came in. And it was telling he was rested for the midweek defeat to Porto.
Chilwell has, to his credit, shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.
But Tuchel could unleash Alonso instead, who seems to have his unequivocal backing behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.
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When Chelsea were battered by West Brom recently, Jorginho was criticised online.
The Italy international endured a troublesome afternoon that day but, in the time since, he’s impressively bounced back.
Tuchel, like predecessors Frank Lampard and Maurizio Sarri before him, trusts Jorginho for the central midfield role.
His passing will be key, with both teams known for their possession-based approach.
And whether he can prove a point against City, who were keen on signing him in 2018, remains to be seen.
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N’Golo Kante, like Rudiger and Azpilicueta, was being written off earlier in the campaign.
But the France international is now back to the same form that saw him established as one of the best midfielders in world football.
And he’ll be charged with the task of snapping at the heels of City’s midfield throughout the game at Wembley.
It’ll certainly be a difficult day for the 2018 World Cup winner.
But this Chelsea side look far better with Kante in a deeper role and Tuchel knows he’ll be vital when it comes to the outcome of the game.
The sixth and final undroppable on this list is Mason Mount.
Some pundits thought the England international was destined to struggle when Tuchel took over, especially after he was left on the bench for the German’s first game in charge.
Yet, to his immense credit, the 22-year-old has earned his manager’s trust in the time since.
He’s scored twice and registered one assist from his last four matches.
And Mount will be hoping to fire Chelsea through to a second FA Cup final in as many years.
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