London (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel admits Chelsea have been handed a major advantage by not having to travel for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
The first leg between the Spanish league leaders and the Blues was played in Romanian capital Bucharest as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Both legs of the ties between Liverpool and RB Leipzig and Manchester City’s clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach have been moved to Budapest.
However, Chelsea will defend their 1-0 first-leg lead at Stamford Bridge, even though the game will be played behind closed doors.
“We have the advantage to play the home game, we don’t have to travel,” Chelsea boss Tuchel said on Tuesday. “This is good for us. We feel happy to be in our hotel before (the game), to have a normal schedule, and maybe this is the decisive percentage for tomorrow that is on our side.
“We still need another top performance, we need to play another high-intensity match. We have a big respect (for Atletico) because we play against the leaders in Spain.”
Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 games under Tuchel, largely thanks to an excellent defensive record, with 10 clean sheets in that run.
However, they are struggling to score, finding the net just 13 times over the period.
Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick gave Chelsea a vital away goal against Atletico last month but both the Frenchman and Timo Werner found themselves on the bench for Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Leeds, when Kai Havertz started as a false nine.
Tuchel was asked whether he needed to give one of his strikers a run of games to build confidence.
But he said players at Chelsea’s level did not have the luxury of time to find their form.
“Maybe then it’s clearly my fault and I take this responsibility for changing,” added Tuchel, speaking about whether his frequent changes had affected the confidence of his strikers.
“If you arrive in elite level football, if you play for Chelsea, there is no time to perform, it does not exist.
“You are in a competition with your teammates, there is no time to get four, five, six matches in a row until you score regularly. This is not a secret, this is a given.”
Tuchel confirmed that Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham remain out injured but both should return after the international break.
Chelsea will also be without influential midfielders Mason Mount and Jorginho as they are both suspended.
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