Chelsea’s players were back in training at Cobham on Wednesday as their preparations for Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City ramped up a gear.
Having had a warm down day on Monday after the defeat to Aston Villa and then a day off on Tuesday, it was back down to business with the final just four days away in Porto against Pep Guardiola’s double-winning side.
There were injury doubts over key duo Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante heading into Saturday’s matchup.
Kante had missed the defeat to Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season with a hamstring issue that saw him forced off shortly before half time of the defeat to Leicester in the league five days prior.
With Tuchel not wanting to take any risks with his world class midfielder, he was rested entirely from the squad that was beaten at Villa Park.
Goalkeeper Mendy was substituted at half time of the Aston Villa loss after colliding with a post when trying to keep out Bertrand Traore’s opening goal.
Kepa Arrizabalaga played the second half in the Midlands as the Blues fell to a 2-1 defeat but managed to secure a top four spot after Leicester were beaten by Spurs.
Chelsea have released some training pictures from Cobham of their first day back ahead of the final and there was a huge injury boost for the side and for Thomas Tuchel in the training session.
Here are a few things we spotted in the latest batch of snaps.
Edouard Mendy was back
Tuchel said after the defeat on Sunday that Mendy had “big pain” but that by Monday, he was recovering well.
The head coach told the media on Monday afternoon: For Edu, the update is that we still have hope that he joins training on Wednesday and he joins the group,” Chelsea’s manager said. “We had huge improvement in the management of pain. We need a further update on Wednesday, but we hope to have him back in training on Wednesday.
“Edu will play if he is fit and if he is not fit on Wednesday we will try on Thursday. And we will try on Friday and take the responsibility for this decision. At the same time, we have trust if he cannot make it. We have a strong guy on the bench with Kepa.”
Having kept 18 clean sheets this season and 14 of them since Tuchel arrived, the sight of Mendy back in training after his injury is a massive boost for the Blues before heading to Porto.
So was N’Golo Kante
Chelsea’s truly brilliant midfielder was not risked, rightly, against Villa and Tuchel didn’t seem too concerned about the midfielder’s potential participation against City.
But still, if Kante isn’t around then there is bound to be some concern, especially as he has struggled with injuries ever since playing through the pain barrier in Baku to win the Europa League with Maurizio Sarri in charge.
Like Mendy though, the sight of Kante back at Cobham and seemingly in full flow will be music to the ears of Blues fans just a few days away from the final.
The Champions League final ball!
Of course, because there is a glamour game to be played that means that we can’t just use the football that was used during the group stages and knockout games. Oh no.
We have a new football to play with and it was on display at Cobham, as you can see in the picture of Kante above as they players got to grips with the new gear. We’re not sure it’s that much different from the other one, it’s still round, but maybe there are subtle differences.
The UEFA spiel on the ball says: “The Finale Istanbul 21 features every design from the previous 20 UEFA Champions League finals, weaving past and present together into a high-performance ball. Slim red banners detail each year and city, while the thermally bonded star panels provide a seamless surface for an improved first touch.
“The ball continues to offer control, aerobatic stability and a secure grip via thermally bonded hexagon panels, overlapping stars and textured coating. Incorporating sustainable glue, the ball provides a seamless surface and improved first touch for even more precision on the pitch.”
So that’s that, then. Obviously it won’t have Istanbul inscribed on it with the final being played in Porto, though.
Source by Football London