Chelsea ‘lacked smell of blood’ in dismal defeat in Zagreb, admits ‘angry’ Tuchel

  • Blues slip to 1-0 defeat in Champions League opener
  • ‘We are clearly not where we want to be’, admits manager

Thomas Tuchel has admitted Chelsea “lacked the smell of blood” after his side slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb and insisted he must find a solution to their slow start to the season.

Mislav Orsic’s first-half goal was enough to seal victory for the Croatian champions on home soil as Chelsea began their Champions League campaign with an erratic performance. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was virtually anonymous on his debut but Tuchel acknowledged the buck stops with him.

“I’m angry with myself and I’m angry with our performance,” the German said. “This is a huge underperformance from all of us. It’s not precise enough, it’s not clinical enough, it’s not aggressive enough.

“It’s not determined enough and not enough individually and not enough as a team and that’s why we lose this game. It was the story of the last few games: we start OK for 15-20 minutes but then lacked determination, precision and maybe even lacked the smell of blood.”

Tuchel, who dropped goalkeeper Édouard Mendy for Kepa Arrizabalaga, added: “It’s for me to find the solution and find the reason why. Obviously they are underperforming individually and I don’t really know where this performance today comes from. A lack of determination, a lack of hunger and a lack of intensity to actually do the things that we need at the highest level. We are clearly not where we want to be.”

Wesley Fofana (left) struggled to keep up with Mislav Orsic for Dinamo Zagreb’s winner.
Wesley Fofana (left) struggled to keep up with Mislav Orsic for Dinamo Zagreb’s winner. Photograph: Denis Lovrović/AFP/Getty Images

Wesley Fofana, the new £70m signing, was at fault for the goal on his Champions League debut but Chelsea were disappointing throughout against opponents who were determined to cause an upset. Unlike Saturday’s victory over West Ham, however, there was no VAR to save them.

Asked why he blamed himself for Chelsea’s poor performance, Tuchel answered: “Because I didn’t see it coming. Obviously I was in the wrong movie.

“I thought that the last game helped us, I thought we showed a reaction in a very difficult moment against West Ham, got the reaction, got the result in the moments when you need a bit of luck in the situation we were in. We had good training sessions, I thought the team was prepared, I thought we know what this is all about. I didn’t see it coming, that’s why I’m angry with myself.”


Ed Aarons at Stadion Maksimir

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