Chelsea win UEFA Super Cup: Why was Kepa subbed on by Thomas Tuchel in Villarreal win?


Chelsea have won their second piece of European silverware under Thomas Tuchel.

It feels like an eternity ago that Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy in Porto, but they have picked up from where they left off by holding their nerve against Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup.

The Blues looked to be faced with the same fate as Manchester United when their clash in Belfast went all the way to penalties after goals from Hakim Ziyech and Gerard Moreno in regulation time.

Chelsea triumph thanks to Kepa

However, it quickly became apparent that Tuchel would be taking a different tact with penalties compared to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he made the inspired decision to swap goalkeepers.

In what amusingly felt like an exact reverse of the infamous 2019 Carabao Cup final incident, Kepa Arrizabalaga was brought on to replace Edouard Mendy for the ensuing penalty shootout.

And it proved to be a stroke of genius with Kepa essentially winning the trophy for Chelsea by way of making crucial saves from Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol.

Chelsea 1-1 Villarreal Super Cup Highlights (Football Terrace)

Why was Kepa subbed on?

However, with many fans on social media questioning whether Kepa actually had that good of a record in penalty shootouts, there remained a degree of intrigue surrounding Tuchel's decision.

Naturally, though, that was the very first question that was put to the Chelsea boss when he conducted post-match interviews - and he wasn't shy about explaining the reasoning.

And it turns out that Tuchel's tactic has been pencilled in from his very first cup fixture at Chelsea, which took place at Barnsley in February, with Kepa finally putting it into practice at Windsor Park.



Tuchel explains the tactic

"It was not spontaneous," Tuchel confirmed to BT Sport. "We talked about it with the goalkeepers when we came in the first cup game against Barnsley. We had some statistics.

"We were well prepared that Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties.

"The analysing guys, the goalkeeper coaches showed me and introduced me to the data and then we spoke to the players and told them it could happen in cup games.

"We spoke to the players and Edou was fantastic. We do what we need to do for the team.There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline and these guys are true team players.

"I am happy for Kepa and for Edou to have a goalkeeper like this that does not show the pride to not step off the field. He is happy to do this for the team and take this for the team."

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Superb from Mendy and Kepa

Well, there you have it, perhaps following the statistics really is the way forward and you've got to credit Mendy for creating minimal fuss when making way for his teammate in the dying moments.

And it was clear to see the camaraderie between the two Chelsea goalkeepers when they faced the world media, too; openly acknowledging Tuchel's tactics and just how effectively it worked:

How the tables turn, huh? Jokes aside, though, it was certainly great to see Kepa getting the moment in the sun that he so badly deserves after what has been a tough few years in England.

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