Thomas Tuchel praises Chelsea star for ‘protecting’ Kai Havertz in Club World Cup final

Thomas Tuchel has praised Cesar Azpilicueta for ‘protecting’ Kai Havertz during Chelsea’s victory over Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final.

Chelsea won the trophy with a 2-1 victory over the Brazilian club last Saturday, with Havertz scoring a penalty in extra time.

But moments before the decisive spot-kick, Azpilicueta held the ball and stood near the penalty spot, which tricked Palmeiras’ players into thinking he was taking the penalty.

But it turned out that Azpilicueta was simply absorbing the pressure from Palmeiras’ players as the Chelsea captain then gave the ball to Havertz, who was standing a few metres away from the penalty spot.

‘He’s always important and the plans are most of the time not longer than 10 days or 14 days max in football,’ Tuchel said of Azpilicueta during his press conference on Friday.

‘For me as a manager he’s super important, he was super important since day one, we had a good connection from the first day which is always important and you always wish for as a coach.

Look at our captain. Just look at him 😍

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‘He gets better with every game he plays, he’s an example, a leader by doing and leading example which is always super, super nice to have.

‘Now he collects so many trophies, he’s had such an incredible career at one club, which is outstanding.

‘He embodies everything that Chelsea stands for, being relentless, being humble, being a warrior at the same time. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t wish the very best for him.

‘If you see how he protected Kai for the penalty, it was brilliant. This is what he does on a daily basis, he protects the team, he’s the first one to step up. Happy to have him.’