Tuchel tweaks his back three


SEVILLE, SPAIN – APRIL 07: Jesus Manuel Corona of FC Porto on the ball whilst under pressure from Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between FC Porto and Chelsea FC at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on April 07, 2021 in Seville, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Chelsea takes on Porto in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday night and the quick turnaround could be both a blessing and a curse. We get the benefit of facing the Dragoes again less than a week after the first leg, and while on good form, fatigued legs may play a part. The ruthless schedule could surely play a role in deciding the result. Regardless, the Blues have set themselves up beautifully with two away goals and don’t have to chase the game like Porto does. The first 15 minutes will tell us a lot about how the Dragoes will attack this game; it’s up to the players to deal with their approach. Both Sergio Oliveira and Mehdi Taremi will be returning from suspension, so Chelsea must keep an eye out for them as they are Porto’s most threatening players.

A trip to semifinals for the first time since 2014 is in the balance, so it will be interesting to see Thomas Tuchel’s team selection on Tuesday night.

Here’s who Tuchel should start in the massive Champions League match:

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Edouard Mendy (No. 16) Goalkeeper, Senegal 

Edouard Mendy was brilliant in the first leg and did a really good job handling the pressure Porto applied early in the first half. The amount of clean sheets he has both in this competition and in the Premier League rival some of the best goalkeepers in the world; he will look to add another to his tally on Tuesday. He has the confidence that the defenders in front of him will make his job easier, which is why that group effort has rewarded him with those accolades I mentioned above. With Oliveira and Taremi returning, Mendy may face more shots and pressure than last game. Nevertheless, I have all of the faith in the world that he will do the job necessary to get over the line and continue to cement his spot as they best goalkeeper in the Champions League this season.

Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Centerback, Spain 

The captain and mainstay in this defense will look to secure his second trip to semifinals with this club, and nothing has changed since then, as he leaves it all on the line every time he is on the pitch. Cesar Azpilicueta has rarely gotten any breaks since Tuchel has arrived and it’s important that the two beside him aid him when Porto applies pressure. The Dragoes have to go for it, so the defense must be aware and ready to deal with anything thrown at them. I have all of the confidence that Azpi can rally the whole team to put in maximum effort, especially due to what waits at full-time.

Thiago Silva (No. 6) Centerback, Brazil

Some may think that Andreas Christensen may play, but I believe that Tuchel will pick Thiago Silva for his experience in these close-out games. Christensen will make the trip after picking up a knock this past weekend, but will he be 100 percent ready to start? I don’t know, which is why I opted for Silva, who needs minutes since he has returned from injury. The Brazilian didn’t play in the first leg for long, nor on Saturday due to suspension, so I think he will return to the side. His experience alongside Azpilicueta is integral when facing a side with its back against the wall, so who else is better for this occasion than a man who just reached the final last season?

Antonio Rudiger (No. 2) Centerback, Germany 

We need a wall to stop Porto’s efforts and no one is better for the job than the brick wall that is Antonio Rudiger. His heading prowess, willingness to put his body on line and desire will be much needed Tuesday against a Porto side who must attack from the minute the ball is kicked. He has looked like a new man since Tuchel has arrived and you want your best players on the pitch in a game like this. It’s a no brainer for the German international to remain in the starting XI.


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