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UCL Final: Tuchel confident ‘fantastic’ Chelsea penalty practice can pay off

Thomas Tuchel insists Chelsea are well prepared for a potential Champions League Final penalty shootout after excelling during spot-kick practice in training this week.

Saturday’s all-English showdown with Manchester City at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto will be decided by the lottery of penalties if the tie remains level after 90 minutes and then 30 minutes of extra-time.

We have already seen one epic penalty shootout in a major European final this week, with 21 consecutive efforts scored in Wednesday’s Europa League showpiece in Gdansk before Geronimo Rulli’s crucial save from fellow goalkeeper David De Gea saw Villarreal triumph over Manchester United.

Chelsea memorably secured their only previous Champions League triumph to date from the spot, with Didier Drogba – who also scored a late equaliser in normal time – netting the decisive penalty against Bayern in Munich in the 2012 final after David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole had all netted following Juan Mata ‘s initial miss.

The Blues would no doubt like to avoid such tension and sheer drama this time around if possible, though Tuchel is confident that his players can triumph on penalties if necessary after the amazing standard produced in the build-up.

Asked if goalkeepers Edouard Mendy or Kepa Arrizabalaga could step up during a shootout in Portugal, the German said: “Well I hope so.

“We always practise penalties when we face a match where it’s possible it could go to penalties.

“Can we simulate the pressure, the fatigue, the occasion, how it will feel tomorrow? No, we cannot.

“But still we believe we can take care about some patterns, and about a certain rhythm and certain habits during penalties. Which we did.

“And honestly, the penalty shootout was fantastic in terms of quality from the takers, I’ve never seen anything like this – 20 penalties in a row and no misses.

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“And so, so strong, and so well taken.

“And we have identified the guys who should take the penalties for us, but I don’t know who in the end will be on the pitch.

“So we need to be well aware, but we are prepared and if we go to penalties we go in there together.”

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