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Champions League

‘You can totally rely on Thiago Silva’ – Stamford Bridge celebrations a show of Chelsea unity, says Tuchel

The veteran Brazilian was seen going wild in the stands after Emerson Palmieri’s strike confirmed passage to the last eight of the Champions League

Thomas Tuchel has paid tribute to Thiago Silva and the rest of Chelsea’s non-playing squad members for their part in Wednesday’s victory over Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues secured passage to the last eight of the Champions League with a 2-0 win against Diego Simeone’s side, thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri.

The latter’s injury-time strike confirmed a quarter-final berth and sparked wild celebrations in the stands from the defender, who is sidelined with injury, and now their manager has highlighted the importance of his presence on a chilly London evening.

What has Tuchel said?

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss, who worked with Silva for several years at Parc des Princes, spoke warmly of the 36-year-old veteran’s impact, drawing upon their bond as crucial to helping the German to settle at Stamford Bridge.

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“Well, I know Thiago now for many years, we had a fantastic partnership in Paris,” the 47-year-old told his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Sheffield United.

“He was an absolutely reliable partner as captain for me as a coach from the first minute I stepped in. Once he is part of the team, he is 100 per cent part of the team, 100% professional. He’s a very emotional guy.”

Tuchel on squad bond

Silva was seen embarking on his gleeful celebrations with Mason Mount and Jorginho, who were also absent from the matchday squad, and Tuchel took time to single them out alongside his benched goalkeepers Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero as key figures of encouragement for the players on the pitch.

“All three of them, Mason, Jorginho and Thiago, were totally involved in the game, and I can only repeat that makes the group special at the moment,” he added. “I heard them during the match coaching, taking care, to support the players.

“I felt the same thing for example from Willy Caballero and Kepa from the bench. If we want to have special results, and if we want to have special moments we need to play with a special atmosphere.

“This does not change in football, not at the highest level and not in the park round the corner. This is what football can do, and to create an atmosphere like this, you can totally rely on Thiago.

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“He absolutely sees himself as a team player, he lives for the team that he plays for. When he’s in the stands he suffers. He was so, so happy for Emerson to score with the other guys.”

Asked about the Brazil captain’s future at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel played coy, adding: “About his contract, it is too early to speak about it. It’s between him and the club, and me and the club, we will take this decision together.

“But if you watch the pictures carefully you will see how young he looks. He was running up and down the stairs, he was dressed like a 28-year-old. So I think there’s still a way to go.”

The bigger picture

Silva will hope to be fit for Chelsea’s return to the European stage, having been handed a Champions League quarter-final against Porto in what is arguably the easiest matchup they could have asked for.

But before then, the Blues have the pressing matter of another last-eight clash, in the FA Cup against the Blades on Sunday, before Tuchel will see a host of his players embark on international duty.

Mount, alongside Ben Chilwell and Reece James, have been called up by England manager Gareth Southgate, in what will likely prove to be a nervy fortnight for the Blues boss, who previously hinted at a desire to prevent players from linking up with their country this month over concerns they would have to quarantine upon their return

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