Football

Thomas Tuchel names Chelsea's ‘emotional leaders’

Chelsea manager says Ruediger, Azpilicueta and Kovacic are the players he can rely on in big matches

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is counting on Antonio Ruediger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic to be his side's "emotional leaders" ahead of their Champions League quarter-final, second-leg clash with Porto tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The Blues have a 2-0 lead from the first leg ahead of the return tie, which will also be played in Seville's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

  QUARTER-FINAL, 2ND LEG

CHELSEA PORTO

In the pre-match press conference yesterday, Tuchel spoke of "emotional leaders" and, when he was asked to pick out who would fit the bill in his squad, he said: "You don't want to be in a fight with Ruediger, Azpi(licueta) or Kova(cic).

"When you have big matches, you look around at who is next to you and feel comfortable, see who you can rely on.

"It is in their nature to show it on the pitch and to protect the interests of our team, which is very important."

The German's selection is interesting considering Ruediger fell out with former manager Frank Lampard, while 31-year-old Azpilicueta was deemed to have his best days behind him.

Both have since become key players for Tuchel, who has lost just one of his 17 games since taking over at Stamford Bridge in January.

He said: "I think in terms of adapting to the (first-leg) result, it's easier for Porto because they know very, very well what they need to do to go through, they need to... (win by) three goals.

"For us, if we start adapting, we could easily lose our heads.

"Because what does it mean? That it's enough to lose 1-0? It's good to have a draw, or better to have 0-0 for us?

"Why should we enter into this thinking? This is the challenge to not lose your head...

"(They) can be very dangerous with runs, dribbling and quality. Sometimes they overload the sides and give you a lot of questions to answer.

"They are very strong at set-pieces."

Porto's key midfielder Sergio Oliveira could feature tomorrow, after missing the first leg.

The 28-year-old has seven assists and 19 goals this season, including five in seven Champions League matches.

'WE WILL SEE'

Coach Sergio Conceicao coyly said "we will see" when asked about Oliveira's fitness.

He added: "This is an important part of the season, we are fighting.

"We have some very demanding matches ahead of us, so we have to ponder a lot between players who are fit and those who aren't.

"So we will see what is the best XI to face Chelsea.

"Also, when you want to get players back too fast, it can be harmful.

"We need to be cohesive and compact. We also need to score and not suffer, that has to be our match strategy."

Football