Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has given a fitness update of his squad ahead of their Champions League Group E opener against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night (September 6). The German has revealed that Thiago Silva has been allowed a breather but new signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria could both feature in some capacity against Zagreb.
Two-time winners Chelsea will travel to Zagreb’s Stadion Maksimir for their first match of the 2022-23 Champions League campaign. The Blues have struggled to find consistency in the Premier League this season, dropping eight points in 10 games. The Champions League promises a fresh start and they will look to secure maximum points in their season opener.
In the pre-match press conference, Tuchel provided fitness updates for three players, starting with Silva. Revealing why the Brazilian did not travel with the squad, the former Borussia Dortmund coach said (via Football.London):
“We decided with Thiago that he will have a break from the travelling and the stress after playing every minute so far in very intense matches. It was the moment to give him a break instead of putting him on the bench and having the travel issues. He takes care of his recovery.”
The focus then shifted to Aubameyang and Zakaria, with the coach revealing that both were in contention to be available for the Champions League encounter. Tuchel further revealed that Aubameyang (recovering from a jaw injury following an armed robbery at his home) trained with his mask and felt fine.
“We had the opportunity to take everyone who was in training and available to Zagreb to do our last training. That includes Denis and Auba. He had a test with his mask, felt fine, trained normal. If everything goes well today they will both be available.”
Thomas Tuchel thinks “very focused” Aubameyang is fit to start for Chelsea on Tuesday
Chelsea completed Aubameyang’s signing for a €12 million fee on deadline day (September 1). The new no. 9 is eagerly waiting in the wings to make his debut for new employers and Thomas Tuchel claimed that it could very well arrive against Dinamo Zagreb.
When asked about Aubameyang’s availability and fitness, the Chelsea boss said:
“He’s [Aubameyang] very ambitious, very focused. He’s hungry to play for us and prove a point. That’s why he’s here, that’s what we felt from the first moment. He is happily invited to prove a point tomorrow.
“If there will come an issue today we will not put him, of course. There was no issue yesterday. I hope there will not be an issue today. Is he ready to start? Of course. He cannot play 90 minutes. It’s on us to take a decision on how we manage the minutes. He needs minutes to get his full fitness and rhythm. It’s on us to find a solution if he comes from the bench or if he starts.”
Aubameyang, who had a brief spell [January to September] at Barcelona, featured in 24 games for them across competitions, scoring 13 goals.