Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said that the Kepa Arrizabalaga substitution in the UEFA Super Cup match was not spontaneous.
Kepa starred at the death as Chelsea beat Villareal 6-5 on penalties, after a 1-1 stalemate after extra time. Surprisingly, Tuchel opted to withdraw No. 1 Edouard Mendy and substitute Kepa in. He proved his manager’s decision right, as he saved two penalties and helped Chelsea win.
Kepa saved from Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol, sending Chelsea into celebrations. Tuchel explained the decision, and said that the substitution was not spontaneous, and it had been prepared during last season’s FA Cup.
“It was not spontaneous,” the German coach said. “We talked about it with the goalkeepers after the first cup game against Barnsley.
“Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties. The analysing guys and goalkeeping coaches showed me the data. We spoke to the players that this could happen when we play in knockout games. It’s fantastic how Edouard (Mendy) accepted it.
“There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline. They’re team players. Edouard does not show the pride to not step off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and take this for the team,” he concluded.
Putting in a shift
Tuchel has now won his second trophy in charge of Chelsea. The first of course was the UEFA Champions League. He arrived at the club and beat some top clubs, and set up a date with Manchester City. There, a Kai Havertz goal was the difference between the two sides, winning the North London club their second Champions League title.
Hakim Ziyech scored the first goal against Villareal from a Havertz assist, before going off injured. Villareal came back into the game, and finally levelled the score through talisman Gerard Moreno. Extra time could not see a goal, and then the game went to penalties.
After Havertz missed his spot kick, Villareal were looking at a win. However, Kepa’s heroics ensured victory for the Blues.