Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Despite having to overcome more wobbly moments against Lille than they might have anticipated on Wednesday night, the holders eventually won 2-1 in northern France for a convincing 4-1 aggregate victory.
However, there were certainly some jangly nerves amongst Chelsea fans when it was the French champions who took the lead at Stade Pierre Mauroy courtesy of Burak Yilmaz’s ruthless penalty.
Chelsea qualify for the final eight
In fact, it wasn’t until the closing seconds of the first-half that the Blues could truly breathe a sigh of relief with Christian Pulisic finding the corner from Jorginho’s fabulous slide-rule pass.
And although Xeka threatened to pull Lille back into the tie once again when he headed against the upright, Cesar Azpilicueta’s back-post finish with his knee ensured that Chelsea skipped into the final eight.
Nevertheless, as Chelsea move deeper and deeper into an uncertain period where their owner, Roman Abramovich, is subject to sanctions from both the UK and EU, doubt and anxiety continues to hang over the club.
With Chelsea still pushing to be able to sell tickets despite the current regulations, there is understandable uncertainty amongst the fanbase as to how their attendances will look for the remainder of the season.
Will only season-ticket holders be able to attend? Will games be played behind closed doors? Will a resolution be found where all Chelsea fans and away supporters can make the trip to Stamford Bridge?
Quarter-final played in front of zero fans?
Well, remarkably, it seems as though the upcoming home leg of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final could well be played in front of exactly zero supporters. Yes, seriously.
The Times reported last night that the Blues face playing the Stamford Bridge half of the tie behind closed doors with the club currently unable to sell tickets for the match under Abramovich’s ownership.
‘But what about the season-ticket holders?’ we hear you ask. Well, according to The Sun, that’s irrelevant for upcoming Champions League games because their packages don’t include European games.
Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Tuchel reacts to the crushing news
It’s a pretty staggering situation and so much so, in fact, that even Thomas Tuchel himself was unaware of the potential situation when it was put forward to him during his post-match press conference.
Sky Sports reporter Gary Cotterill informed Tuchel that the home leg of Chelsea’s quarter-final is set to be played behind closed doors, provoking an evidently disheartened reaction from the Blues boss.
“Thanks for ruining my evening,” Tuchel responded with visible disappointment. “I was in such a good mood. Can we speak about it when it is confirmed?”
Then, despite the protests of what was presumably the resident press officer, Cotterill clarified for the Chelsea coach: “It is confirmed.”
To that, Tuchel simply replied: “So let’s wait for the confirmation of the confirmation. Let’s see. Today I am happy that we are in the last eight.”
🗣 "Thanks for ruining my evening." 😳— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 17, 2022
Thomas Tuchel the moment he found out that Chelsea's quarter-final home leg may have to be played behind closed doors pic.twitter.com/SMdPI5Ayj5
You really have got to feel sorry for Tuchel.
Tuchel handling himself with class
While these important questions must obviously be asked, the Chelsea manager must be cursing his luck that he’s found himself at the centre of a media storm surrounding such a complicated situation.
It really is remarkable how Tuchel is managing to conduct himself with so much dignity and class when it feels as though barely a day goes by without Chelsea’s predicament growing in size.
And with Chelsea seemingly set to play without any of their fans in attendance for the upcoming quarter-finals, Tuchel will need to dig deep to ensure that his side is undeterred by such bizarre circumstances.