Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel claimed that «everything is missing» at Stamford Bridge after his underperforming team were upset 1-0 by Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League Group E opener on Tuesday.
Tuchel’s 100th game in charge of the Blues was one to forget as they fell behind early to a Mislav Orsic goal on 13 minutes that proved to be the only strike of the game.
New signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a late equalizer ruled out for offside, and Tuchel was left to lament the worst possible start to his side’s campaign on the continent and their third defeat in seven matches so far in the 2022/2023 season.
«We are clearly not there, where we need to be and where we can be,» Tuchel confessed.
«So it’s on me, it’s on us, we need to find solutions.
«At the moment, everything is missing, [there is] too much to analyze. I’m a part of it,» Tuchel added.
«I am angry at myself, I am angry at our performance. I didn’t see it coming.
«We need to be much better. We are not finished, we are not happy but I thought we were on a good way. I am surprised by this performance.»
«It’s an underperformance from us,» went on an angry Tuchel. «We have the same story as always.
«We have an OK start, we don’t finish our half-chances, we don’t feel it when the game is already there to put to bed in the first 15-20 minutes.
«Then we concede one counter-attack, which is far too easy, and from there we struggled.»
When asked how many of his players are operating at the top of their game, Tuchel answered bluntly: «Not a lot at the moment.
«I don’t know where this performance comes from. It’s a lack of hunger, intensity, a lack of determination to win duels, to actually do things on the highest level.
«You cannot expect to win games, not in the Premier League or Champions League. We are not where we want to be,» he insisted, with a west London derby at Fulham awaiting in the early kick-off in the English top-flight on Saturday.
As Chelsea’s teething problems in the post-Roman Abramovich era continue, domestic rivals Manchester City enjoyed a far more pleasant evening.
Joining the club in what is proving to be a bargain £51 million ($58.6 million) summer transfer from Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland scored a brace in his maiden outing for the English champions.
After a 4-0 away win over Sevilla in Group G, coach Pep Guardiola noted that it is becoming «routine» to praise the Norwegian.
«I love this routine and it’s been a routine in every single press conference after games talking about him and his goals,» Guardiola beamed.
«Hopefully he can continue this routine. The numbers speak for themselves. It’s not just the two goals, it’s always he’s there, always he’s there. It’s always the feeling that he could score more goals.
«His numbers all his career, even previous teams, is quite similar. He has an incredible sense of goal,» the Barcelona legend further remarked.
Thanks to his antics at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Haaland increased his impressive tally to 25 goals in 20 games in the Champions League and became the youngest player at 22 years and 47 days of age to reach the landmark since generational rival Kylian Mbappe did it at 22 years and 80 days old.
With the World Cup-winning wonderkid also stealing the headlines in the French capital, however, through his own brace for Paris Saint Germain as they beat Juventus 2-1, it was further drilled home that we are living in the era of the prodigious pair who with each passing week seem to be taking the baton from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mbappe needed just 22 minutes on the pitch at the Parc des Princes to decide the tie with a pair of sensational strikes.
After five, he latched on to a delicious lobbed Neymar through-ball and Achraf Hakimi set him up for the second just over a quarter of an hour later.
The link-up play on the first goal showed that despite rumors of a huge falling out earlier in the season, Neymar and Mbappe are clicking together once more and firing on all cylinders.
What do we blame Mbappe’s recent selfishness towards Messi and Neymar on? His football ethics or just the coach’s ignorance? This could’ve been his easiest assist of the season and Neymar’s easiest goal.Messi got subbed and I switched to Manchester City. pic.twitter.com/SJyOORm9Ls
— ❤💙Rock™ (@staconzy16) September 6, 2022
In the second half, however, after Weston McKennie pulled back a consolation goal, Mbappe caused controversy when thinking more about his hat trick and missing a shot on goal that he should have squared to Neymar for an easy tap in.
Playing down the mix-up, PSG manager Christophe Galtier preferred to look at the positives.
«Mbappe played a great game and he is goal obsessed,» Galtier said. «Maybe he did not see Neymar, I don’t know.»