Because Thomas Tuchel wanted to keep Romelu Lukaku out of “the next fire,” he was an unused replacement in Chelsea’s win against Lille.

Lukaku was heavily chastised after his performance in the Premier League’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Belgium attacker had just seven touches in 90 minutes, the fewest of any player in the Premier League since Opta began collecting data (2003-04)

Instead of Lukaku, Kai Havertz led the line against Lille, and the Germany international scored the first goal in the last-16 clash at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Christian Pulisic sealed the Blues’ victory, and Tuchel was glad Lukaku was able to avoid the limelight.

“It wasn’t right after the contest, when everyone was concentrating on the few touches we needed to get him into the next fire,” says the narrator. It was time to take a deep breath and take a step back. Tuchel stated, “That was the choice, and that’s it.”

“As you can see, we had a good win and a good performance.” It was a gruelling encounter, and Romelu was the subject of practically every question. The attention is enormous. There were nine other players that did not participate in the game.

“We must never forget that this is a team sport, and the 11 players do everything they can to fully commit to our plans and to their teammates.” This is how it works: those on the bench must do the same.

“This is how we win football matches, especially at Chelsea and especially for us.”

Tuchel said Lukaku had been taken out because he was “exhausted” prior to kick-off, but he later amended his remarks in his post-match press conference.

Lukaku has a strong chance of being selected for the EFL Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday, according to the German.

“Every game is unique. Today’s emphasis was on high-intensity play and a fast-paced game. It was all about putting in long hours on and off the field, as well as having a strong team “Tuchel stated.

“Romelu has struggled to offer it in the last several games. That’s what I meant when I said he seemed mentally and physically fatigued.

“He has started every match since the Liverpool game [which he missed on January 2], and there have been some extra times as well. We went after three other guys today, with Kai in excellent shape, full of confidence, and putting in a lot of effort and high-intensity metres for the squad.


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