'We are lucky': Mateo Kovacic claims Chelsea have a 'great' player who Tuchel's only ever picked once

Mateo Kovacic lauded Chelsea for having a trio of elite goalkeepers in their squad.

Speaking after the 1-0 Club World Cup victory over Al Hilal yesterday, Kovacic complimented each of the gloved guardians for the contribution toward the team.

One of the mitted marvels was on full show in Abu Dhabi.

Quality from Kepa once again

Kepa Arrizabalaga got the nod against the Saudi Arabian side, despite Edouard Mendy being available following his Africa Cup of Nations triumph.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The decision to start the Spaniard certainly paid off.

He made two superb saves in the second half with the score only 1-0 in Chelsea’s favour thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s earlier effort.

His one-on-one denial of Moussa Marega was then trounced by the flying stop to prevent Mohammed Kanno’s long-range drive.

Had it not been for Kepa’s heroics for the second successive match, the Blues might’ve kissed goodbye to their Club World Cup dreams.

“Kepa showed again that he is a world-class goalkeeper, like always,” said man-of-the-match winner Kovacic.

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

“We have three of them, with Marcus (Bettinelli). We are lucky to have great goalkeepers.”  

Both of Kepa’s ‘keeper comrades were watching his excellent display from the side lines.

Whilst Mendy warrants little introduction, Bettinelli probably still needs some getting used to.

Bits and bops for Bettinelli

Lukaku’s club-record return over the summer rather overshadowed the goalie’s free transfer from Fulham and he’s been living in the shadows ever since.

Thomas Tuchel has only selected the 29-year-old once so far, the 5-1 FA Cup win against Chesterfield.

Mendy’s absence whilst away on AFCON duty was probably the best chance for Bettinelli to double his appearance record for the European champions.

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

Last Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle looked like the ideal setting, yet Tuchel opted for Kepa instead.

Again, this selection turned out to be a wise one.

Plymouth were prevented from taking the game to penalties after their own spot-kick in the 118th minute failed to beat the former Atletico Bilboa man.

It’s back to black for Bettinelli.

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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.