Premier League • England

‘He is too talented’ – Tuchel predicts Chelsea star’s breakthrough after landmark outing

Steve Pearson
Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek (centre) during The Mind Series match v Tottenham at Stamford Bridge

Thomas Tuchel has outlined what a Chelsea star needs to do to become a key cog in his machine after notching a landmark statistic in the Malmo victory on Tuesday night.

Chelsea maintained the pressure on Juventus in Group H of the Champions League after cruising to a 1-0 victory over Malmo. The Swedish side put up stern resistance, limiting the Blues to very few clear-cut opportunities.

Nonetheless, Chelsea’s rear-guard rarely looked troubled and a comfortable victory was ultimately achieved.

The match was a notable one for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 25-year-old midfielder made his first Champions League start in six years in another sign he is slowly winning Tuchel over.

The likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have been everything Tuchel could’ve asked for and more. However,. Loftus-Cheek has revived his career this season and appeared in each of their league clashes in October.

Speaking after the match, Tuchel showered Loftus-Cheek with praise. However, he also pointed out what he needs to do to ensure his resurgence isn’t a fleeting one.

“I was a bit worried in the first 15 minutes if Ruben can find another gear but I heard before it was his first Champions League match since 2015 from the start,” said Tuchel (via Sky Sports).

“Yeah, I think we can give the boys credit sometimes to be maybe nervous and find their way into the match. I am happy he fought his way through and in the moment it is symbolic for me he does not disappear or stay invisible.

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“He wants to dominate opponents, he wants not to just be a part of the game because I think he is too talented to just be a part of the group. He needs to use his full potential. That is the absolute key for him. If he does like in this moment he can be a big part of the squad.

“That is why I am very happy and after the first 15 minutes he was involved in a lot of dangerous moments for us. I am happy he pushes himself through these little downs and comes up with another strong performance.

“I am very happy with him and the next step is to show consistency and push himself because the limit can constantly be pushed because he has so much potential.”

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Tuchel passes credit for Chelsea win onto canny assistant

Meanwhile, Tuchel refused to take credit for the decisive tactical half-time change which ensured Chelsea beat Malmo in the Champions League.

The Blues were dominant in Sweden but only mustered the one second-half goal. Callum Hudson-Odoi made it, running down the right wing and crossing to the left for Hakim Ziyech. However, they were on opposite sides in the first 45 minutes.

The two attackers switched positions after half-time. And just 11 minutes later they found the breakthrough as a result.

On the decision, Tuchel said: “All the credit to my assistant [Arno Michels], he had the idea at half time.

“We had the feelings that maybe when we enter into the spaces behind their back five, they defended a low block, we would lose seconds if Callum or Hakim had to switch back.

“We thought maybe we can enter and save important tenths of a second.”

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