Premier League • England

Pundit slams Tuchel over striking Champions League claims, as Chelsea told foundations are crumbling

Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea v Real Madrid April 2022

Thomas Tuchel was wrong to claim that Chelsea have blown their Champions League chances, but the Blues do have serious issues, according to two pundits.

Chelsea’s Champions League hopes took a major hit on Wednesday following a defeat to Real Madrid. The La Liga side claimed a 3-1 advantage in the first leg of the quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

While Madrid striker Karim Benzema was ruthless in scoring a hat-trick, he exposed Chelsea’s problems.

Indeed, it is the second successive defeat for Chelsea after the international break. They conceded four to Brentford in the Premier League last Saturday – again at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking after the Madrid defeat, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel labelled his side’s form “alarming”. He also admitted that the tie is over as it stands.

However, Craig Burley hit back at Tuchel for his deflated mood. The pundit questioned what message his comments send to the dressing room.

“The good news for Chelsea fans is that their manager has chucked the towel in, so he’s sat in the corner of the ring blubbering to himself,” Burley told ESPN FC.

“It’s not exactly the message that you want and there’ll be people out there who’ll think this is tactics, psychology… I don’t think it’s completely dead and buried.

“I think it’s unlikely, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Bearing in mind there’s no away goals rule anymore, those three goals are not worth as much as they were. I don’t think you should be sitting there as a manager in a press conference with a two-goal deficit saying, ‘is there a chance in the second leg? No’.

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“That’s just not a very good signal to be sending out after a poor performance and after being outplayed. They’ve thrown the towel in the Premier League title race, pretty much.

“You want to hear something with a bit more fighting spirit and say, ‘well if we get an early goal you never know’.”

Meanwhile, Frank Leboeuf agreed that Chelsea are way off the levels of Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race.

But, amid their status as Champions League holders following a stunning run last season – including beating Madrid in the semi-finals – Leboeuf claimed that Chelsea have serious issues.

Chelsea have serious issues – Leboeuf

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel

“They are a very good team, better than some others, but he [Tuchel] has to find a solution,” the pundit said.

“He didn’t find a solution in the second year in France [with Paris Saint-Germain] for example. He has some issues with N’Golo Kante who has been injured.

“At the back, it was good last season, it’s not anymore.

“We saw that on the second goal between [Andreas] Christensen and Thiago Silva, the misunderstanding between the two – even if we have to emphasise the fact that Benzema is an incredible player.”

Indeed, Tuchel admitted that he made a “mistake” in pitching Christensen against Vincius Junior.

Tuchel and Chelsea must refocus

But while Vinicus got the beating of Christensen fair and square, Chelsea have to hold their hands up for Benzema’s third goal.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy dallied on the ball with the French striker bearing down on him.

Mendy subsequently made a mess of his pass and Benzema snuck in to score into an empty net.

It is such errors that led Tuchel to admit that his team are “so far off our level”.

Chelsea return to action against Southampton on Saturday before facing Madrid in the second leg in Spain.