'The plan': Tuchel shares the real reason why he took Kovacic off at half-time vs Brentford
Thomas Tuchel gave an explanation as to why he substituted Mateo Kovacic at the break against Brentford last night.
Speaking to Chelsea TV after his side’s 2-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final win, Tuchel said he always intended to swap Kovacic with Jorginho at some stage in the match.
Case for Kovacic
The Croatian international started for the first time yesterday since the 7-0 humbling of Norwich City back in October.
His long injury absence was extended after testing positive for covid.
He returned last weekend away to Wolverhampton Wanderers as a substitute, meaning the midfielder was fit enough to face Brentford from the first whistle.
Chelsea have been a much weaker outfit without the 27-year-old in attendance.
Although it was only a 45-minute cameo, Kovacic’s presence certainly lifted the team.
In order to save the midfielder for the Boxing Day Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Tuchel replaced him at half-time for Jorginho, another who had just overcome his own health issues.
“With him this was the plan,” said the boss on Kovacic.
“Everybody else we knew we have a strong bench and we can inject some quality in the game.
“But it was the plan for Jorgi and Kova to share the game.”
Jorginho providing the juice
As impact subs go, Jorginho’s introduction turned out to be a smart one.
He added further control to Chelsea’s hold on the tie, as is customary of the Italian’s performances.
The ‘regista’ kept things ticking over whilst the Blues attempted to break down Brentford, which they finally managed in the closing ten minutes.
N’Golo Kante feed Reece James – two more of Tuchel’s power players in reserve– who in turn delivered a dangerous cross that was diverted into his own goal by Pontus Jansson.
Christian Pulisic – the third big name from the bench – was then fouled in the area, allowing Jorginho to hop, skip and send Chelsea into the semi-finals.