Before being sacked as Chelsea head coach, Thomas Tuchel lambasted his squad for showing no hunger in their 1-0 Champions League defeat at Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday; the loss was Chelsea’s third in five games; Tuchel: “I didn’t see it coming, obviously I was in the wrong movie”
Wednesday 7 September 2022 13:57, UK
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In what turned out to be his final post-match briefing as Chelsea head coach, Thomas Tuchel criticised their “huge underperformance” at Dinamo Zagreb.
Tuchel accused his side of lacking “hunger and intensity” as they opened their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 defeat in Croatia.
Mislav Orsic’s early goal stunned the 2021 Champions League winners at the Maksimir Stadium, with Tuchel admitting he “didn’t see” the result coming while also lamenting his side’s “lack of determination” as they slumped to their third consecutive away loss.
Chelsea have now conceded at least once in each of their last six games across all competitions, their joint-longest run without a clean sheet since the German took charge in January 2021. He was sacked on Wednesday morning.
“I’m angry on myself,” he said in his final press conference. “I’m angry on our performance. It’s not aggressive enough on the ball, it’s not enough individually or enough as a team.
“Not a lot [of players are playing at the top of their game]. It’s obvious that we’re underperforming. It’s a lack of determination. A lack of hunger and intensity. You cannot expect to win games. We are clearly nowhere near where we want to be.
“I just know that I need time to digest it and find solutions. It’s a story of the last games – we start okay. But then we lack precision. We lack the smell of blood.
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Report: Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea
“It’s clearly my job to analyse it. Clearly we need to be much better. We are not happy with our results. We are not happy with our performances. I’m a bit surprised by this performance today.
“I didn’t see it coming. Obviously I was in the wrong movie. I thought that the last game helped us, we showed a reaction against West Ham. Had good training sessions. I thought the team were prepared.
“I didn’t see it coming that’s why I know I’m angry on myself. There is no day off in the next days, don’t worry. There cannot be a day off at the moment.”
Meanwhile, in Group E’s other encounter on Tuesday night, AC Milan came from behind to draw 1-1 at Red Bull Salzburg.
September 14: Red Bull Salzburg (H) – kick-off 8pm
October 5: AC Milan (H) – kick-off 8pm
October 11: AC Milan (A) – kick-off 8pm
October 25: Red Bull Salzburg (A) – kick-off 5.45pm
November 2: Dinamo Zagreb (H) – kick-off 8pm
Thomas Tuchel’s 100th and final game as Chelsea manager did not go to plan – best described as a forgettable tirade of poor judgment and missed opportunities.
“I don’t really know where this performance comes from. A lack of determination, a lack of hunger and a lack of intensity to actually do the things that we need at the highest level.”
A scathing review of his side’s below-par display against Dinamo Zagreb.
The German opted against calling out players individually, asserting that “we lose as a team”, but privately he would be remiss not to lay into a couple of suspect performers. Chelsea have spent a combined total of £100m – or just over – on a brand new centre-back partnership yet appear to be significantly worse off than before.
Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana were caught napping for Mislav Orsic’s well-taken opener – but worse than that, the latter was comprehensively beaten in a foot race with a striker eight years his senior.
The situation looked to be recoverable, but for Fofana’s sluggish attempt to recover it. Perhaps he was, or is, simply lacking in match sharpness. Either way the leisurely response did very little to thwart Orsic’s match-winning surge. Outmuscled and beaten for pace – hardly the hallmarks of a £70m-rated defender.
Tuchel, following a recent 2-1 Premier League loss to Southampton, criticised his side for being defensively “soft” – and it’s clear to see that very little improvement has been made since then. Chelsea have conceded at least once in each of their last six games across all competitions, their joint-longest run without a clean sheet since Tuchel took charge.
Defensive discipline and shape were not all that this Chelsea performance lacked, but they will be powerless to stop many a team this season if they continue to neglect the basics.
Back to the drawing board, one might suggest.
If there was a moment to sum up Chelsea’s miserable defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, it came in the seventh minute of stoppage time, when substitute Hakim Ziyech and a bewildered Reece James stood squabbling over a free-kick.
Barely two minutes earlier, Ziyech, performing wretchedly after his half-time introduction, had sent a tame effort straight into the wall from almost exactly the same spot. And yet, with the game on the line, he was determined to have another go.
James’ plea to take it was ignored. Mason Mount’s too. And so Ziyech stepped up. Sure enough, he struck it straight into the wall again. Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Maybe he was talking about Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel certainly felt a sense of deja-vu. “It’s the same story, like always,” he shrugged in his post-match interview.
Poor finishing and complacent defending were once again the themes. In fact, they are fast becoming Chelsea hallmarks.
Ziyech typified their bluntness at the top of the pitch. His introduction for Cesar Azpilicueta was intended to change the course of the game. Instead, it only added to Chelsea’s frustration.
Long before the botched free-kicks, there were miscued crosses, wayward shots and plenty of other unfortunate moments. By the end, Ziyech had attempted four dribbles and completed none, losing possession 16 times and only winning it once.
In Ziyech’s defence, he was not alone in his struggles. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not remember his debut fondly having spurned numerous scoring positions. Raheem Sterling was similarly wasteful. Mount offered little.
But it was Ziyech’s performance, and the second of those free-kicks thumped straight into the Dinamo wall, which best typified Chelsea’s night. A summer of extravagant spending, and yet the same old problems, only more pronounced.
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