Football

Kante tests Covid-19 positive, will miss Juve tie

Frenchman will miss Juve tie, Tuchel does not know players' vaccination status

GROUP H

JUVENTUS v CHELSEA

(Tomorrow, 3am, Singtel TV Ch 111 & StarHub TV Ch 216)

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante will not be involved in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League group game at Juventus after testing positive for Covid-19, manager Thomas Tuchel said yesterday.

Kante's positive test is another blow for Tuchel as the English Premier League side are also without winger Christian Pulisic, midfielder Mason Mount and fullback Reece James due to injuries.

Tuchel said he does not know how many of his players are vaccinated and, although he has taken the jab, he will not force others to do so.

"We are a reflection of society, the players are adults and they have a free choice. We should accept it, this is more or less all I can say. I know the situation is far from over... It makes you very aware it is not over," Tuchel told reporters.

"I'm a football coach, I'm a father within my family... I have enough to do. I'm not fully informed about what vaccinations are all about.

"I'm informed enough to take the decision myself but I'm not in a position to give recommendations publicly, I will not do it."

Kante's midfield partner Jorginho also declined to comment on the Frenchman's vaccination status or his thoughts on vaccination. He said: "This is a personal thing, everyone has a choice so I am not going through that, to be honest with you."

TACTICALLY STRONG

On Juve, he added: "Tactically, they are really strong.

"They know how to defend in the box, they are very organised, they have been there for many years and we need to try to break them with speed and energy."

Tuchel, meanwhile, accepted teams would be more motivated to play Chelsea as they are the defending European champions but stopped short of labelling his squad as favourites for the title.

"I don't think we are the favourites but we've shown the performances we're capable of," he said.

"We should stay realistic and be clear what we demand of ourselves. The better we do this, the better our performance is."

Juve have struggled to get going after Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Manchester United and the Italian side sit 10th in Serie A - 10 points behind leaders Napoli - but Tuchel said he expects them to recover under Massimiliano Allegri.

"Time will tell but it's not a secret that any team in the world without Cristiano is a weaker team because he's one of the greatest... They lost a big champion, a big personality," Tuchel added.

"But you can win games and become a strong team without Cristiano. They have a lot of experience, a lot of talent, a very experienced coach...

"They have a mentality shaped by winning."

Juve will be missing their two main forwards, after Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala suffered hamstring and thigh injuries respectively in last Sunday's 3-2 win over Sampdoria.

However, ex-West Ham United forward Paolo di Canio believes they can hurt a Chelsea team "wounded" by their 1-0 loss to Manchester City last Saturday.

He told Tuttosport: "Juventus will face a wounded Chelsea after their defeat against Manchester City but they are no less aware of their strength.

"For the Bianconeri, it will be tough but it won't be easy for Chelsea as well, as Juventus are getting more consistent.

"They can achieve a result and even a draw could be good because it would put pressure on Chelsea." - REUTERS

Football