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Roman Abramovich won’t make his first Chelsea game since 2018 as Romelu Lukaku is set for bench against Juventus


Thomas Tuchel has praised the influence of owner Roman Abramovich. Photo: PA

Thomas Tuchel has praised the influence of owner Roman Abramovich. Photo: PA

Thomas Tuchel has praised the influence of owner Roman Abramovich. Photo: PA

Roman Abramovich will not attend his first Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge for over three years tonight, despite travelling to London and making a rare visit to the stadium over the weekend.

Chelsea owner Abramovich has also not used the trip to meet again with Thomas Tuchel, but the club’s head coach made it clear that he and his players feel the full support of the Russian billionaire ahead of the Champions League group game against Juventus.

“First of all, I don’t know if he is in London and will be tomorrow [Tuesday]. That maybe answers the question as to whether I met him. No,” said Tuchel. “I think firstly and most importantly, he is a football fan. A huge football fan. He’s in love with the game and in love with the details. He wants to know everything about it, about what is going on here in Cobham [Chelsea’s training ground].

“We keep him posted because he has this genuine interest and genuine love for the game. This is the most important thing and makes things very special. I have the feeling it’s about this. He wants to be entertained. He wants to be competitive. He wants to have the right attitude on the pitch. This is what he created here and it is amazing. We are blessed to enjoy our time here at this club. To keep progressing, this is what we continue to do.”

Abramovich hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog for a small event, attended by about 50 people, at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. This was the first time he had been seen at Chelsea’s stadium since 2018.

A delay over a visa renewal application for Abramovich resulted in it being withdrawn and there have since been doubts over whether or not he is allowed to work in England. Abramovich made his latest trip to London as an Isareli citizen and, other than hosting President Herzog, also visited the Imperial War Museum to see the Holocaust Galleries he helped to fund with donations.

Tonight, Chelsea entertain Juventus, who they trail by three points in Group H of the Champions League. A spokesperson for Abramovich said: “Mr Abramovich will not be attending the match as he has a previous commitment elsewhere to a charity which he supports.”

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Abramovich did attend the final of the Champions League, which Chelsea won, in Porto last season and afterwards met with Tuchel to discuss the club’s transfer plans and strategy for this campaign.

“We give our very best if the owner is here or not here,” said Tuchel. “If he is not here, I know he will watch us and follow us closely. We put on a show on a daily basis, and by show I mean hard work, to make him happy and to entertain him and all our supporters who are in the stadium.

“It’s a big game, a tough game. We need everyone in the stadium to be full on. We need ourselves to be on the top level. This is what we do. If he’s there, we’re super happy. But it will not change our approach.”

Tuchel suggested Romelu Lukaku could start on the substitutes’ bench against Juventus after returning to full training from injury, but the German is sweating on the fitness of Kai Havertz, who suffered problems with his hamstrings against Leicester City.

Timo Werner is available again and Christian Pulisic is fit, and Tuchel said: “We always had the options. It’s on the players when they are needed and they have the chance to show their potential. They have to show it. They need to be ready. That’s life at Chelsea. This is what they do in a very impressive way.

“When we have Romelu, we play with Romelu. When we have Timo we play with Timo. When they’re unavailable, we try to find solutions. That’s why we are here. That’s why we have a big squad and why we trust everybody. They know what it takes to play for Chelsea. This is it. The attention goes to the guys who are available and who are fit. For the injured guys and the guys who are missing, they get our full attention to get them back on the pitch.”

Chelsea v Juventus,
Live, BT Sport 2, 8.0

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