Premier League

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel hints at two debuts for Dinamo Zagreb clash | Football

Chelsea meet Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League (Image: Getty)

Thomas Tuchel has explained why Thiago Silva did not travel to Croatia with the Chelsea squad for the Champions League opener against Dinamo Zagreb.

The Blues start their European campaign in Maksimir on Tuesday night but will be without experienced central defender Silva.

Silva has started all six of Chelsea’s Premier League games this season and Tuchel believes it was the right time to rest the 37-year-old.

“We decided with Thiago that he would have a break from traveling and the stress after having played every minute in very intense games so far,” said Tuchel at his pre-game press conference on Monday.

“It was the moment to give him a break instead of putting him on the bench and having the travel issues. He is taking care of his recovery.’

While Chelsea are without Silva tomorrow night, Tuchel could debut signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria on deadline day.

Chelsea signed former Arsenal striker Aubameyang from Barcelona while they landed Swiss midfielder Zakaria on loan with Juventus.

Thiago Silva has played well for the Blues this season

Thiago Silva has been strong for the Blues this season (Image: Getty)

“We had the opportunity to bring everyone who was in training and available to Zagreb for our last training session,” added Tuchel. “These include Denis and Auba.

‘[Aubameyang] had a test with him [protective face] Mask and felt good, trained normally. If all goes well today, they will both be available.’

Under Tuchel, Chelsea won the Champions League in 2021 before suffering a quarter-final loss to eventual winners Real Madrid last season.

The Blues are in Group E this year alongside Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, Serie A giants AC Milan and Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg.

Regarding the threat from Zagreb, Tuchel said: “They are used to winning, it’s a winning team. You’re used to being on top. That shapes a certain mentality.

“They got through qualifying, which is never easy. They deserve to be here and I’m pretty sure they’re planning a very technical, emotional game against us.

“They have individual quality as always, like every Dinamo Zagreb team and every Croatian team. Lots of individual quality.

“We’re in a moment ourselves where we need to improve, we’re not entirely happy with the results and our performances. We have to take the next step.

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“It’s the Champions League, very exciting. We are aware of the challenge of playing in a first away game in a group stage. It’s tough.

“It can end up in complicated situations, but I think it’s very important that we accept it and play a humble game, not get stuck in our own expectations.

“We’re going to take on the fight and the challenge and then we can also have the faith and the confidence that we can win. We definitely have to perform.’

Chelsea have 10 points from their first six Premier League games and are making the short trip to west London rivals Fulham after their trip to Croatia.

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