Chelsea coaches in UAE ‘in contact’ with Covid-stricken Tuchel

News Desk
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and his assistant managers

Thomas Tuchel will aim to give Chelsea a virtual team-talk ahead of their Club World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

The Blues boss has been unable to join the Blues in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for coronavirus.

The German missed Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Plymouth, watching from home as his side edged out the Pilgrims after extra time.

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Tuchel’s assistants Arno Michels and Zsolt Low will take charge for Wednesday’s Club World Cup semi-final against Al Hilal at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, but will be in constant contact with Tuchel.

And the former Borussia Dortmund boss will do his best to deliver a pre-match speech through video technology.

“We’re constantly in contact with Thomas,” first-team coach Low said. “We have a lot of meetings together and we’re video calling all the time, many times in the day.

“We record training and send that to him, we change ideas a lot of times in the day.

“It’s a question for the next hours and the next day, maybe, as to how we can connect Thomas with the team before the match.

“I think in the hotel it might be easier; it might be more difficult at the stadium.

“But also during the game we can be in contact with him, on what he sees and what he wants us to do.

“We have a very, very well structured club at Chelsea, with a lot of support for everybody.

“And (technical director) Petr Cech, for example, has supported us amazingly well in Thomas’ absence.

“We have very good team management, with a lot of support as coaching staff to overcome this situation.

“But Thomas is also supporting us as best he can from a distance.”

Chelsea remain hopeful Tuchel will be able to join the Blues in the United Arab Emirates for Saturday’s match, which will either be the final or the third-place play-off.

The 48-year-old is following the UK Government self-isolation protocols and must submit all the standard negative tests to be able to head overseas.

Low insisted none of Chelsea’s other coaches will attempt to mimic Tuchel’s passionate and energetic touchline demeanour in Wednesday’s last-four encounter.

“You can’t copy Thomas – he’s one of the best coaches in the whole world,” Low said.

“That’s why you have to share the training and coaching, and do different roles.

“And on the sideline also, as in the cup game we’ll swap over between myself and my colleague Arno Michels, to try to push the team forward.

“And change all the time if somebody sees something or has a good opinion they can communicate it during the game or at half-time.”

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is also yet to link up with Chelsea, having claimed Africa Cup of Nations glory as Senegal overcame Egypt to lift the title.

Chelsea assistant Low has not ruled out Mendy playing a role on Wednesday, but that appears remote at this stage.

Mendy will arrive in Abu Dhabi on either Tuesday or Wednesday, with Chelsea waiting until then to make a final decision on the starting goalkeeping berth.

The likelihood remains that Kepa Arrizabalaga will start, especially after the Spain stopper’s dramatic penalty save in extra time that sealed Chelsea’s edgy win over League One Plymouth at the weekend.

“Mendy should be travelling later (on Tuesday) or (Wednesday),” Low said.

“So we’ll see how tired he is. He has to arrive first and then we’ll check him.

“And so then we’ll see if there’s a possibility that he plays.

“It’s a good situation for the coaches, with two amazing goalkeepers in Kepa and Edouard. Then we have to decide who will play.

“Mendy has had a fantastic performance to win the Africa Cup of Nations.

“And Kepa has done an amazing job, with the penalty save at the weekend so he’s also in very, very good shape.

“When Mendy arrives, we’ll see what decision to make.

“We’re very happy for Mendy; it’s a very, very important thing for him to win the Africa Cup of Nations.

“He produced an amazing performance and it was also very important for him to celebrate with his team-mates and the whole staff.”