Report: Tuchel has been forced to change one of his CL winning tactics because of a certain player

Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea reportedly forced Thomas Tuchel into altering one key method that helped clinch the Champions League.

According to, the team’s fluid forward line that worked so effectively in Europe last season had to be changed due to Lukaku’s more rigid stance up top.

The Belgian international was signed as the striker to push Chelsea beyond continental success and reclaim the Premier League crown.

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Before his arrival at Stamford Bridge, the Blues had pretty much been operating without a traditional number nine under Tuchel.

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He used Olivier Giroud fleetingly and hardly gave Tammy Abraham a look in.

Instead, the German coach preferenced a front line with more freedom to rotate between themselves.

Kai Havertz often played as the ‘false nine’, generally flanked by Mason Mount or Timo Werner, with Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech also featuring.

Champions of Europe

Other than the first-leg win against Atletico Madrid, where Giroud started and scored a wonderful bicycle kick, Chelsea went through the Champions League knockout stages without deploying a recognised centre-forward.

This worked wonders, as they saw off Atletico, Porto and Real Madrid, before masterfully defeating Manchester City in the final.

That combination of Havertz, Mount and Werner disrupted City’s defence and ultimately decided the tie in Tuchel’s favour.

Photo by Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Yet, this interchangeable trio was adjudged not be enough to mount a charge on Pep Guardiola’s domestic crown.

None of the attackers scored over 15 goals across all competitions, with only Werner, Abraham and Giroud managing more than 10.  

Hence why Lukaku, who had just won Serie A with Inter Milan after scoring 24 times, was bought for a club-record fee.

How Tuchel viewed Lukaku’s homecoming

As state, Tuchel saw the 28-year-old as a possible threat to his trusted system.

He also apparently accepted that Chelsea would no longer be able to press as intensely with the former Inter man leading the line.

The coach has yet to find a happy medium with Lukaku.

Arguably, the team’s best performances this term have been without him in the starting XI.

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Tuchel is pragmatic and likes solving problems, yet this could be one dilemma too far.

Either he changes his methods once again to suit Lukaku – an unlikely scenario – or Lukaku changes his methods to suit Tuchel, another improbable situation.

Whoever outlasts the longer will be the winner in this scenario.   

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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.