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Friday, April 8, 2022

Thomas Tuchel hopes to help N'Golo Kante's Chelsea form as midfielder observes Ramadan

  Thomas Tuchel admitted that he did not know whether N'Golo Kante's form has been impacted by the number of matches the Chelsea ...

 

Thomas Tuchel admitted that he did not know whether N'Golo Kante's form has been impacted by the number of matches the Chelsea midfielder has played over the last few seasons. The Frenchman's form has been questioned after a disruptive season.

Kante was substituted at half-time in the Blues' defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, being replaced by Mateo Kovacic for tactical reasons . The performance was unfamiliar for the midfielder, who struggled to make his influence felt and recorded just 21 touches against Carlo Ancelotti's side, while the Blues struggled to disrupt Los Blanco's counter-attacks.

The former Leicester ace produced an impressive rate of man of the match awards in the competition in the last 12 months but has seen this term disrupted by injury and illness, leading him to miss 16 matches. Tuchel noted that Ramadan may have exacerbated Kante's form since the return from the international break but refused to suggest it was the only reason, given Kante's experience of observing the religious tradition.

Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is based on the lunar calendar, so it's place in the season changes each term. Both clashes against Real Madrid also fell during the period in 2021. This year the process in which Muslims fast during daylight hours is from April 1st to May 1st. Tuchel said:

"I can honestly not answer the question. It can be an ongoing debate, and nobody will know. N'Golo is a key player and has outstanding qualities and unique qualities. For some teams, it's a striker or central defender; for us, it is N'Golo. He can give things to a team no one else can.

"He struggles this season due to injuries and illness. This is a reason for some of our bit inconsistency, of course. We've missed him for so many matches if you look at his available minutes. At the moment, he is fasting due to his religion and belief. He is not doing it for the first time, but if you do not eat or drink for many days during the day, it can be an effect.

But maybe it's part of the explanation of why we had the feeling he is not on his highest level if you compare how much of an influence he was in the last campaign against Real Madrid. This is nothing to be ashamed of or to feel sorry for. He is a key player with unique qualities. So we try to help him because we know what we have when he is on the pitch."


Chelsea have struggled for form on the whole since the end of the international break, having conceded seven goals in two matches. Ralph Hasenhuttl has noted that he could see a lack of confidence in the Blues' display against Real Madrid. Tuchel is less sure that is the issue. He said

"A lack of confidence would be very surprising because there was no need for a lack of confidence. It was a very untypical first match to lose [against Brentford] because we were 1-0 up and did not allow much up until then.

 The goals are very different to what we conceded, and they were not a pattern. We defended the last matches in a back four, both matches. Not to be fancy but not to be pinned with too many people in the defence against not enough strikers. Anything can have an influence on that.

"I don't have this one answer. Some of the goals are also about individual behaviour, about behaviour in little groups – two or three players and how we behave. It is also about determination and investment defensively.

 How many sprints are we doing? How much do we invest defensively, and do we have the determination and challenges to take care of them? Thinking, 'I don't need help to win these challenges' or 'am I protected by the structure?'.

"It is good if nothing happens and you are protected, but sometimes it gives you the feeling of 'oh okay, if I don't win it here, then it will be a goal'. Maybe we are lacking this mentality in the last matches. That it is really, every little challenge matters. We need higher determination and investment in terms of high intensity runs against the ball. This is where we can improve."

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