‘It was serious’: Chelsea boss Tuchel confirms training ground bust-up between Rudiger and Kepa ahead of Champions League clashavril 6, 2021
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed there was a “serious” training ground incident between teammates Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga on Sunday, but has insisted the row has now been cleared up.
Hours after Chelsea suffered a shock 5-2 home defeat against Premier League strugglers West Brom on Saturday – Tuchel’s first loss in charge – reports emerged that tempers had flared between German defender Rudiger and second-choice keeper Kepa as they trained at Chelsea’s Cobham base the following day.
Rudiger was sent in early by Chelsea staff as a result, and Tuchel has now confirmed there was indeed an incident between the teammates.
“Sometimes you have little situations where you look away, let them sort things out. This was not the case, we needed to interfere in the situation, so the situation was serious,” the German said at a press conference as Chelsea prepare to face Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
“But the guys themselves, how they handled the situation was also impressive and showed a lot of character, but the situation was serious.”
Rudiger and Spanish stopper Kepa are said to have clashed during a session for players not involved in Saturday’s defeat to West Brom. The pair reportedly patched things up later on, and Tuchel praised Rudiger for apparently initiating the reconciliation.
“No, no punishment so far because of the way they dealt with it,” said the German.
“The reaction was immediate, they were clear. Toni sorted it out directly, which was absolutely necessary, a strong and brave thing to do, the right thing to do, and cleared the air. We are happy with the way the dealt with it.”
Saturday’s humiliating 5-2 defeat at the Bridge was Tuchel’s first loss in 15 games since he took over from the sacked Frank Lampard at the end of January.
As well as unsavory headlines about the training ground bust-up, information leaked out on Sunday about the debrief into the “horror show” which Tuchel had held with players.
According to sources quoted by The Athletic, the German had pinpointed Chelsea’s “unacceptable” defensive lapses, in particular by Kurt Zouma and Jorginho on one occasion.
Tuchel said leaks from the Blues camp were unfortunate but not unexpected.
“That it gets out, I’m used to it, there are too many channels, too many ways information can get out,” said the former PSG boss.
“I heard some of my debrief from the match was out… it’s not nice. I strongly believe the details need to stay in the club, at the training ground.”
Chelsea’s remarkable defeat to West Brom – who are near-certainties for relegation – came as a significant shock considering the Blues’ stingy defensive record up to that point under Tuchel.
The timing was also a blow to their confidence ahead of their meeting with Porto in Seville on Wednesday night.
While Chelsea were impressive in overcoming La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid across two legs in the previous round, Porto pulled off a shock win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
The Portuguese club will likely have been licking their lips at their English rivals defensive calamities on Saturday, as well as the subsequent talk of unrest in the camp.