Chelsea’s preparations for the League Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday have been plunged into doubt after both Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech hobbled off in the club’s Champions League win over Lille.
In what was looking likely a fairly relaxed and enjoyable evening for the reigning European champions, descended into a nightmarish scenario which could see two of Thomas Tuchel’s key men potentially miss the club’s Wembley showpiece against Liverpool this weekend.
Chelsea will take a 2-0 lead to the Stade Pierre Mauroy in mid-March for the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against the French champions, with goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic settling the score at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
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Despite the routine win and a very professional job executed by Tuchel, the injuries to Kovacic and Ziyech will no doubt leave a sour taste in the mouth of the German, with both players forced to withdraw shortly after the restart to create preparatory uncertainty for Sunday.
Kovacic trudged down the tunnel five minutes after the whistle had blown for the second half in west London, hobbling off with major discomfort, and only 10 minutes Ziyech joined him for an early bath after going down and appearing to clutch his ankle.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saul Niguez were the chosen replacements by Tuchel and the duo slotted in nicely to Chelsea’s midfield as the club got their noses in front with a second and comfortably saw the game out, taking a commanding lead to France for the return leg.
Ziyech, who bagged the winner against Crystal Palace at the weekend and entered this Champions League showdown off the back of netting in three consecutive Premier League matches, will be a major blow if he’s unavailable for the Blues on Sunday, as he recently described his current form as the “best” he’s enjoyed at the club.
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“Yeah. The last couple of months I am in good shape, and I am enjoying playing football. I am trying to do my best and that is the most important,” Ziyech said after the Palace win.
Tuchel will now face an anxious wait as club doctors ascertain the severity of both injuries.