Tuchel starts defender for first time since 2nd January with £45m man also recalled: Chelsea predicted XI vs Al Hilal

Chelsea begin their Club World Cup campaign tomorrow with a semi-final fixture against Al Hilal.

Thomas Tuchel’s group landed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 24 hours after their narrow FA Cup victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Tuchel did not travel with the squad, however, following his positive covid result.

Arno Michels, Zsolt Low and the rest of the back-room staff will resume managerial duties until the chief returns.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Whilst they have physical control over the team, the main manager is surely going to have the final say over the starting XI.

Here’s the lineup we believe Tuchel will pick remotely to face Al Hilal:

Defence

Having only played Plymouth a few days ago, expect a handful of changes from the weekend outing at Stamford Bridge.

Kepa Arrizabalaga deserves to keep the goalkeeping jersey, following his late denial of the League 1 side from the penalty spot.

Antonio Rudiger also remains, but might be joined by the returning Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah.

Silva linked up with his club teammates again after representing Brazil in their two World Cup qualifiers.

Chalobah hasn’t started a game since the 2-2 draw with Liverpool at the beginning of January due to a hamstring injury.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Midfield

Chelsea used a back four against Plymouth, yet anticipate the trusted back three to return.

Therefore, Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta could well resume their duties at wing-back.

The three-man midfield changes to a double pivot, with N’Golo Kante replacing Jorginho, who partners Mateo Kovacic.

Attack

Tuchel has the luxury of picking from a full set of forwards.

For this particular front line, we think he will select Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Mason Mount, whilst Romelu Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi drop out.

The two Germans both came on as substitutes last Saturday and played a pivotal part in Alonso’s match-winner.

Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Havertz grabbed the assist, following his £45m (Sky Sports) compatriot’s neat through ball.

Wednesday would be a good time for Werner and his fellow countryman to get a goal; neither have scored since the start of last month.

Chelsea predicted XI vs Al Hilal: Kepa; Rudiger, Silva, Chalobah; Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Werner, Havertz, Mount

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.