Why Antonio Rudiger got angry with Marcos Alonso as Chelsea are handed timely Real Madrid boost

Why Antonio Rudiger got angry with Marcos Alonso as Chelsea are handed timely Real Madrid boost

Lightning strikes twice

“Our defending wasn’t at the level it has been,” a disappointed Thomas Tuchel admitted after his Chelsea backline had uncharacteristically been breached on multiple occasions in the space of 90 minutes. “It’s hard to accept, but there’s no other solution than to accept it. We move on forward.”

Those reflective words were not spoken by the German after yesterday’s shock 4-1 defeat against Brentford. They were delivered one year ago on this date after the Blues had unexpectedly capitulated against West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge. That game ended 5-2. It proved a landmark momLightning strikes twice

“Our defending wasn’t at the level it has been,” a disappointed Thomas Tuchel admitted after his Chelsea backline had uncharacteristically been breached on multiple occasions in the space of 90 minutes. “It’s hard to accept, but there’s no other solution than to accept it. We move on forward.”

Those reflective words were not spoken by the German after yesterday’s shock 4-1 defeat against Brentford. They were delivered one year ago on this date after the Blues had unexpectedly capitulated against West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge. That game ended 5-2. It proved a landmark moment.ent.

Chelsea used the result as fuel for the remainder of the season. They reached the FA Cup final and advanced through the Champions League knockout stages. Porto were beaten. Real Madrid too. And in the final against Manchester City in Porto, a goal from Kai Havertz saw the Blues crowned champions of Europe for a second time.

History could repeat itself this season – stranger things have certainly happened. Chelsea are in the FA Cup semi-finals and the Champions League quarter-finals, the first leg of which will be played against Real Madrid on Wednesday evening at Stamford Bridge. Before that game, however, will come introspection from Tuchel and his coaching team, as was the case 12 months ago after the West Brom debacle.

“After so many wins and so many good results, I will now refuse to make a drama out of it,” Tuchel said during his post-match press conference yesterday, during which the celebrations from inside the Brentford dressing room could still be heard.

“We will dig in and try to find out why it was like this. There are some reasons which we can put on us, and we will analyse and digest it. It’s hard to take because it’s very unusual for us what happened today. Then we will refocus.”

Turbo Timo runs out of time

During the international break, Timo Werner spoke about how comfortable he felt playing for Germany – and that Hansi Flick’s tactical framework suits him better than Tuchel’s. They were somewhat controversial comments, although the Chelsea head coach stated on Friday that he had no issue with the forward speaking out.

“Some of my staff told me about the interview,” Tuchel stated. “I did not even look at the interview. They told me they really wanted to have this kind of line because Timo was struggling to find a good answer to the question. With all due respect, maybe it also depends a little bit on the opponents if you score or don’t score.

“Many leagues – and the Premier League – are a bit better than the teams they (Germany) have played against in the last weeks. So it is natural that you struggle a bit more [in the Premier League]. In general, I don’t take these things too personally. I never read them, and I never listen to them. I don’t care too much about these things. Otherwise, you have a headache all the time.”

Tuchel backed up those words with action: he started Werner against Brentford. It was only the fourth occasion since the beginning of December that the 26-year-old had been named in the side for a Premier League game. It was his opportunity to impress, to lay down a marker ahead of the season run-in. He did not take it.

Werner was deployed off the left of the Chelsea attack and lasted a little more than an hour before being replaced by Romelu Lukaku as the Blues attempted to claw their way back from 3-1 down. The German did not register a shot on target, did not fashion a scoring opportunity for a teammate, did not complete a single take-on, and rather damningly lost possession on 12 occasions.

Even match-going supporters, many of whom have ardently stuck by Werner, turned yesterday. There was discontent from those in the Matthew Harding Lower in the opening period when he failed to slip a pass through the Brentford defence to Havertz. And others around gestured in frustration in the second half when Werner was bullied off the ball.

Tuchel himself was aggrieved with Werner – the Chelsea head coach was angered by the forward’s movement during the opening 45 minutes as the Blues attempted to pick their way through a resolute Bees defence.

It’s more than 18 months since Werner arrived at Chelsea from RB Leipzig in a deal worth £49.5million. In that time, his performances have only deteriorated, and goals have become less frequent. This summer feels the right time for both the German and club to part ways. If there is an offer on the table for Werner, it has to be considered. The current situation is doing nobody any good.

Rudiger’s big moment overshadowed

Every Antonio Rudiger performance has become a cannot-miss experience. That was once again the case against Brentford, for good and for bad. The centre-back’s first involvement was to lose his temper with Marcos Alonso, who twice in the opening minutes was sloppy with his passing.

Then came Rudiger’s customary shot from distance; it drifted harmlessly wide of David Raya’s goal. Fortunately for Chelsea supporters, the German international was not done. Early into the second half, Rudiger was given time and space once more and unleashed a powerful drive that clattered off the post and bounced into the net.

Rudiger’s shot was taken from 39.6 yards; no Chelsea player has scored from a greater distance for 15 years. Unsurprisingly, the celebrations across Stamford Bridge were far from understated. Havertz and Mason Mount both placed their hands on their heads in disbelief. The goalscorer, meanwhile, gurned as a charged around the pitch and then ran over to embrace Tuchel.

Chelsea supporters were equally as joyous in the stands – the goal that had been 14 months in the making had finally been scored. Yet there was precious little time to enjoy the moment as Brentford equalised immediately and then went on to score three more times in the second period, with two of the goals coming from errors from Rudiger.

Had the emotion of the defender’s goal caused Chelsea’s players to lose focus? After the game, that was a question put to Tuchel, but he wasn’t keen to entertain the idea. “I like when the players celebrate,” he replied. “Obviously, it was strange as we were working hard for that first goal, and we know how hard it is to create chances against Brentford.

“They defend either very high and man-mark, or they defend very, very deep in a blow of ten men around the box. So it’s very hard to create chances. You need to be patient, have a fluid rhythm, be very intelligent and also very clinical to take little chances and have that first goal and break the block down. Once we had it, we stopped defending and gave three goals away in ten minutes which is very untypical and gave the game away for us.

“I don’t know why. We gave a big chance straight away after the goal, and then the next one was a goal. From there, we did not defend mature enough. We were not aware of the danger in these moments, which is also very strange for us. We got punished. They made the most of these ten minutes, which is maybe not normal. So it’s a summary of strange events, but it’s on us, and it’s our fault.”

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