Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel could drop five players vs Dinamo Zagreb

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel could be set to make several changes for his side’s trip to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb in their opening Champions League group stage match on Tuesday. The German coach shuffled his pack on Saturday and changed formation, which resulted in a 2-1 win over West Ham. The Blues have conceded in each of their last five Premier League games as Tuchel has struggled to find his preferred team, and there could well be more changes for a short turnaround on Tuesday evening. Here, Express Sport looks at five players that could miss out after starting against the Hammers.

Conor Gallagher

In a change of shape against West Ham, Tuchel opted for a three-man midfield which included Gallagher alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic. He was brought off after an hour in favour of Mason Mount, who could get the nod in Europe.

Gallagher did not offer enough going forward to cement his place and despite Mount not yet registering a goal or an assist this season, could get the chance to break his duck in Croatia.

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Marc Cucurella

Despite starting every game since his £62million signing from Brighton, the Spanish defender saw Ben Chilwell come off the bench and change the game against West Ham with the England wing-back getting a goal and an assist.

Tuchel has claimed that despite Chilwell’s opinion, his fitness is not yet up to the required level and the two players are likely to share minutes this season, but a supreme attacking performance could see Chilwell start and perhaps play an hour against Zagreb.

Mateo Kovacic

Kovacic has played a key part in the squad since Tuchel’s arrival to Stamford Bridge, but with the quick turnaround and the German coach already admitting that he was forced to overplay the midfielder on his return from injury, Kovacic could drop out of the team in favour of Jorginho.

Tuchel revealed that he was only told by the medical staff to play Kovacic for 20 minutes during the 2-1 defeat to Southampton last week, but injury to Loftus-Cheek meant that the Croatia international was forced to play 45 minutes.

“Hamstring injury, next midfielder out [Loftus-Cheek]. No one left,” Tuchel told BT Sport after the Southampton loss. “Recommendation for Kovacic was 20 minutes.” With several midfielders since returning, Tuchel may take Kovacic out of the starting team to avoid a recurrence of his knee injury.

Christian Pulisic

Despite featuring in all of Chelsea’s games this season, Pulisic was handed his first start against West Ham but was brought off after an hour. Substitutes Kai Havertz and Armando Broja both made an impact off the bench, and Tuchel admitted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could make his debut in the Champions League opening fixture.

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