Thomas Tuchel claims five-sub rule has left Chelsea disadvantaged against Real Madrid

Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea have been placed at a “huge disadvantage” in their attempts to retain their Champions League title due to the Premier League’s decision not to allow five substitutions per game this season.

Chelsea must overturn a 3-1 deficit away to Real Madrid on Tuesday night if they are to progress to the semi-finals of the competition, and Tuchel said their inability to make as many changes as the Spanish team this campaign has made the task even more difficult.

Premier League clubs recently agreed to allow five substitutions per match from next season but the English top-flight is currently the only major competition in Europe which restricts teams to just three changes each game.

Tuchel, who said his Chelsea players are in need of “physicality” to perform at their best level, wants his team to be more aggressive and intense than they were in the first leg, when Karim Benzema scored a sensational hat-trick at Stamford Bridge .

“First of all we wanted it more physical but we did not work hard or intense enough in the first match,” said Tuchel.

“Second of all, we face a huge disadvantage in terms of physicality because Real Madrid has a whole year with five changes and we play the most demanding league, we play the most matches throughout the season and throughout 2022, so it is not always easy to play a physical game.

“We are a team that needs the physicality, the sharpness, the commitment and the investment to be a special team. We could not implement that enough in the last match. This was also due to their quality, their capacity to slow the game down, to control the match by ball possession.”

Real are currently 12 points clear at the top of La Liga and Carlo Ancelotti was able to rest key midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in their 2-0 victory over Getafe this weekend.

Tuchel warned last week that his team would get “hammered” at the Bernabeu if they repeated their performance from the first leg, and on Monday he told his players that only writing a “fantastic script” would be enough to send them through.

Chelsea strolled to a morale-boosting 6-0 win at Southampton this weekend but Tuchel knows the considerable scale of the challenge facing his side in the Spanish capital. He will be without striker Romelu Lukaku for the second leg, with the Belgian not yet recovered from an Achilles injury.

“We need nothing else than a fantastic script if we want to be able to overcome this,” said Tuchel. “The challenge is incredibly high given the circumstances of the first leg and where we play and against whom we play.

“It is always allowed to dream and it is sometimes important to imagine things and to dream about it, but it will not shift the focus from the fact that we need to deliver and be ready tomorrow.

“It is worth trying in sports. It is a beauty of the game that everything is always possible. We will try everything and from there we see. Hopefully belief grows within the match by our actions and hopefully we can fulfill our dream. But realistically we have to invest a lot and be at our very top level.”

No English side has ever won a Champions League game at the Bernabeu for more than one goal, but Ancelotti warned his Real players that there was plenty of work still to do.

“Chelsea will come here to rescue the tie, I have no doubt about it,” said the former Chelsea manager. “That’s the spirit of football, the spirit of big clubs and great players, to never give up.”


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