Morocco: Hakim Ziyech
There was some talk about not releasing Ziyech this break but it has apparently come to nothing. Unlike his European counterparts who have World Cup qualifying, Ziyech will see his side take part in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying with Mauritania on 26 March and Burundi on 30 March.
Morocco is well ahead on points so they shouldn’t have too much trouble qualifying. That also makes their usage of Ziyech tricky. He could use match time to continue to build form, but he also comes across as a bit fragile in a way that will concern Chelsea. Hopefully he can build some steam and stay fit through the break at the same time.
United States: Christian Pulisic
If any player at Chelsea needed a moment to get away and just experience something different, its Christian Pulisic. He has had a few flashes of his quality in recent matches but, overall, he has been incredibly poor compared to the bar he set last season. Injuries have played a lot into that, as has a confusion over where Tuchel seems to think he fits, and of course just pure low confidence.
Friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland on 25 March and 28 March, both in Europe, will be Pulisic’s first true involvement with the national team since a 2-0 loss to Canada(!) in 2019. For a player made out to be the be all end all of American talent with the highest standards (to the near complete ghosting of Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, and Tyler Adams relative to Pulisic by the US soccer media), Pulisic will need to make an impact.
At Chelsea: Willy Caballero, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Edouard Mendy (injured), Thiago Silva (injured), Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho (injured), Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Tammy Abraham (injured)
Chelsea’s stay behind contingent seems sizable to the naked eye but it really isn’t. Mendy will be having a minor tooth surgery as Silva, Jorginho, and Abraham work on fitness and recovery. Of the remainder, two are keepers, two fullbacks, and two are midfielders of one variety or another. Given the first team is still bubbled off of the youth team, Tuchel simply won’t have enough to do a proper training session until international players return.
Of course, that may not be a bad thing for Tuchel. Since joining, he has had to go from game to game without a breath. This break gives him a chance to finally sit down and plan out how he wants his Chelsea to look on the deepest levels, not just for the rest of this season, but for next season as well. There will be tons of match review, match prep, preseason prep, and perhaps most importantly of all, transfer decisions made this break. And all of that is not to mention the simple moment to not have a match for two weeks and be able to relax the tiniest of bits.
What are you looking for in this break? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!