The coach of Chelsea football club, Thomas Tuchel has stressed that his team drew with Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday, December 8, because his players were relaxed whenever they took the lead.
Chelsea were expected to beat Zenit when they played their last UEFA Champions League group stage game this season on Wednesday. To the dismay of the club’s fans, the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
The match started as expected as Timo Werner scored a tap-in as early as the 2nd minute to give Chelsea the lead. But Zenit got back into the game in the 38th minute thanks to Claudinho’s strike.
Before the end of the first half, Zenit took the lead in the 41st minute thanks to Sardar Azmoun’s strike.
The second half resumed and Chelsea who were without most of their first-team players due to injuries and fatigue played more organized than they did in the first half.
Their new approach to the game earned them a goal in the 62nd minute thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s strike. Warner made it 3-2 in the 85th minute.
Unfortunately for Thomas Tuchel and his boys, Chelsea were not able to hold on to the lead until the final whistle. Zenit’s Magomed Ozdoev scored the equalizer in the 94th minute.
The 3-3 draw pushed Chelsea down from the first spot in Group H to the second spot with 13 points in 6 games, two points behind first-placed Juventus.
This means that Thomas Tuchel and his boys who are the reigning champions of the UEFA Champions League wound be unseeded when UEFA holds the draw for the round of 16 on Monday, December 13, 2021.
After the 3-3 draw in Russia on Wednesday, Thomas Tuchel told reporters that his players still listen to him in reaction to a question a reporter asked him during the post-match press conference.
The coach said: “I won’t take it personally that you make a judgment here that my players are not listening to me, which I don’t find so nice but I leave it with you and your opinion.
“I think that we had a very good first 15 minutes and we stopped doing the things we did in the first 15 minutes.
“We were forgetting why we were the better team, because of the investment, the level of concentration, the level of physical investment was high enough to be the better team.
“Once this drops, five, 10 percent, and it does; once we start managing results and changing our behavior from what the score is, we get punished at the moment.
“It happened to us at West Ham and it happened again today. The reaction was good again, that shows me that it’s not about what we can do, because we can do it.
“Suddenly when we concede two goals we can step up, we can show a reaction. But once we have the lead we give it away again, like also today.
“The last six minutes again we started playing balls back, we started not attacking in the same aggression, the same hunger as before, and we got immediately punished, now twice.”
Thomas Tuchel and his boys can face Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Ajax
Now that Chelsea are not seeded because they did not finish top of their group, they could face one of the strongest teams in the tournament including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Ajax.
These three teams have proven to be among the most consistent clubs in the Champions League this season especially Ajax and Bayern Munich that did not record any draw nor defeat throughout the group stage.
As mentioned earlier, the draw for the round of 16 will take place on Monday, December 13. While the ties will be divided across different weeks, with the first legs taking place on February 15-16 and February 22-23. The second legs are then on March 8-9 and March 15-16.