Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid believes Romelu Lukaku’s lack of playing time at Chelsea is weird, but his Belgian teammate will improve under Thomas Tuchel.
This season, Lukaku has fallen out of favor under Tuchel, with Kai Havertz set to start the opening leg of the Champions League quarter-finals against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
“I know Romelu is a really great striker. Obviously, it is a bit strange not to see him play that much lately,” Courtois announced in a press conference ahead of the first leg. “He is a guy with an enormous quality. He finds the goal easily”.
Chelsea has other excellent strikers. I understand that when the team is winning, it is not always easy for the manager to keep playing the same guys.
“But I’m sure he will get through it. Sometimes you just need a little adaptation. I had the same thing in my first season at Real Madrid. It wasn’t easy. I’m sure he will come through,” he added.
Carlo Ancelotti, the coach of Real Madrid, has not accompanied the team to London since he was still recovering from a positive Covid-19 test last week.
Madrid is still optimistic. On Wednesday, Ancelotti will test negative and rejoin the team, but Courtois believes the players will be fine without him.
“We know how he is, how he wants us to train, and he participated in a chat with us by video call,” said Courtois. “Obviously, there is a difference if he is on the bench and can participate more, but in Celta Vigo (on Saturday), the technical team did very well.”
Last year, Chelsea outplayed Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals, losing 3-1 on aggregate, before Chelsea went on to win the final against Manchester City.
Courtois said, “That was different. It was without fans, in the semi-final, later in the season, it’s a new season and another game”.
Tuchel stated that Chelsea wants to prove a point at Stamford Bridge to avenge their 4-1 loss to Brentford.
The European champions lost in their Premier League encounter for the first time since owner Roman Abramovich declared his intention to sell the club last month, collapsing after taking the lead.
13-time winners, according to Tuchel. Madrid may not have been the powerhouse they once were when they won three Champions League trophies from 2016 to 2018, but they still boasted a wealth of experience.
“I think it’s normal that cycles like this change at some point, and this is what happened to them,” he said at his press conference on the eve of Wednesday’s match.
“But we should be very aware that teams with this kind of experience, flair, and quality can produce special performances and special nights and special occasions. For us, it’s also a pretty special occasion to play against Real Madrid in a quarter-final. That’s why we also feel pretty excited, and we don’t lose too much sleep thinking about where they are in Europe,” he said. “We want to prove a point tomorrow again. We want to prove it to ourselves, and that’s the target, and the occasion is special, and the opponent is special.”
Tuchel claimed he was unconcerned about defender Andreas Christensen’s commitment, despite being close to completing a free transfer move to Barcelona.
“Maybe it is a bit more challenging for him than normal, in a moment where everything is clear or where you are fully committed to your club you play for at the moment, which is obvious, but maybe he cleared his future,” said the Chelsea boss. “I don’t know it yet.”
He added, “He is our player, and we want to have the most of him, and he needs to be focused. This is his job. He needs to be determined, and this is what we expect from him, and I think we can expect it.”