Christian Pulisic will not have a chance to start the game against Manchester City after helping Chelsea reach the UEFA Champions League final – coach Thomas Tuchel has kept him out of the starting lineup. The 22-year-old American is coming off the bench.
Had he been a starter, Pulisic would have been the first American player to appear in a UEFA Champions League final, considered the most important stage in the world when it comes to club football.
The star of the US national team was one of the main reasons Chelsea reached the final, contributing a goal and an assist in the two-game semi-final series against Real Madrid. He started the first game of that series and came off the bench for the second.
Why doesn’t Pulisic start the Champions League final?
Pulisic has been in and out of the starting lineup with Tuchel since the German manager replaced Frank Lampard in late January. In 25 competitive matches, Tuchel, who knows Pulisic well from their days together at German club Borussia Dortmund, has chosen to start Pulisic in 13 of them. He came off the bench in the other 12.
But Pulisic has not been entirely happy with the situation. After the return game against Real Madrid, against which he started from the bench, Pulisic did not hide his discontent.
“Very frustrated,” he said. “Um, yeah. Not much more to say. I wanted to play from the beginning, like I always do. I had to keep proving myself, over and over again. But, as always, I draw closer to God, and he gives me strength. With that behind me, nothing can stop me, really. “
MORE: Pulisic’s case to start the Champions League final
As one of the most expensive and star-studded teams in the world, Chelsea clearly has a lot of attacking talent on its roster. They all bring different qualities to the game, giving Tuchel several tactical options, depending on the challenges a game may present.
The Chelsea manager has rotated players such as German forward Kai Havertz ($ 82 million transfer fee), Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech ($ 43 million transfer fee), Mason Mount Academy product and Pulisic (fee $ 73 million transfer) in attacking positions along with center forward Timo. Werner. But when it comes to the UEFA Champions League, Pulisic has shown that he is a great player. The following graphic tells the story:
While Pulisic has had to overcome pesky injuries along the way, and that could have been a good reason for Tuchel to manage his minutes in past games, it is obviously not a factor in the final game of the club season before the break. summer.
Pulisic like a spark from the bank
What’s more likely in the game is that Tuchel believes that Pulisic can change the game with his pace and skill, should Chelsea need to come back in the game.
Pulisic is strong at beating defenders 1 on 1 and exposing gaps in opposing defenses. If Manchester City take the lead, Tuchel will have to rely on Pulisic’s attacking ability to take down England’s stingiest defensive team.
But even if Chelsea are ahead of the game, it would be tempting for the manager to pitch Pulisic with 20-30 minutes to go against tired defenders. The fact that Pulisic can impact a game from the bench is a part of his game that has caught the attention of observers, including the manager of the Belgian team, Roberto Martínez:
“Christian Pulisic is one of the few players who can be really strong as a starter or as a substitute,” Martinez said in a conference call prior to the Champions League final. “In the two games against Real Madrid, in the first leg he starts and makes a difference. And in the second leg he comes in as a substitute and has that incredible intelligence to adapt to the role. There are not so many players like that.
Why it is important for Pulisic to play the Champions League final
Regardless of whether it starts, a Pulisic appearance in the game will be a big deal. No American man has set foot in the UEFA Champions League final.
Pulisic is on his way to becoming the greatest American male player in the history of the game. He is the most expensive American player in history, after Chelsea shell out more than $ 73 million to sign him from German club Borussia Dortmund in 2019. He was just 20 years old at the time.
MORE: US Soccer Pioneers On Why Pulisic Appears In The Final Is A Big Problem
He is clearly the biggest star in American men’s soccer today and has accumulated 36 appearances and 15 goals for the United States men’s national team. It will be a major contributor if the USMNT advances to the 2022 FIFA World Cup next year in Qatar.
Pulisic will face Zack Steffen, Manchester City’s substitute goalkeeper and his teammate in the United States. One of the two will lift the trophy in Portugal: it will be considered the greatest achievement of a club by an American footballer.
There is only one American man who has ever won a UEFA Champions League medal, and that was former US national team member Jovan Kirovski, who won it playing in the group stage with Borussia Dortmund in 1997. Nine American women have done it before. featured in the UEFA Champions League final.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.