Thomas Tuchel assesses Romelu Lukaku's performance in first game since interview controversy

By Sean Walsh
Lukaku was reinstated to the Blues' starting XI
Lukaku was reinstated to the Blues' starting XI / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Thomas Tuchel believes Romelu Lukaku will be able to deal with the added pressure on him in the fallout of his explosive interview last week, praising his performance on the return to the Chelsea starting lineup.

The Blues eased to a 2-0 win over rivals Tottenham in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening, with Lukaku leading the line after being omitted from the squad last time out.

Tuchel was asked by Sky Sports about his thoughts on Lukaku's performance post-game, replying:

"Good, absolutely happy.

"I was pretty sure he wasn't effected by [the pressure]. I see him on a daily basis. He seemed to be relaxed and fine with the situation and mentally moved on.

"Romelu can handle pressure and adversity. It was a good performance. He contributed a lot to our defensive setup and created some chances."

Lukaku's return to the lineup was one of a number of changes Tuchel made after N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.

The German tactician explained why he made a switch from Chelsea's usual system.

"We played 4-4-2 when we had the ball because there were no players left to play a back five after Thiago was positive!" Tuchel said.

"Yesterday we took the decision, took some minutes on the training pitch to work through the principles. I felt the team was very focused to do it right and we had some moments in defending with a back five because we did not want to [cause] overload on the wing backs.

"We normally play with a back five so we know it's difficult to defend with a four. But the boys were very honest and open minded with it. It was a quality game because we didn't allow them to create chances which is hard with their front three."