Chelsea’s technical director, Petr Cech, has explained why Kepa Arrizabalaga was dropped on the bench for the Blues 2-1 win over Brazilian side Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final on Saturday.
Kepa was benched in Thomas Tuchel’s squad for the final after enjoying something of a renaissance in recent weeks.
The Spain International stood in for first-choice goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy as the 29-year-old was away with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
During this period, Kepa kept five clean sheets in the last eight games Chelsea played and was in top form during Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Al Hilal in the semi-final.
However, Mendy, who only returned to Chelsea shortly before the semi-final, having participated fully in Senegal’s celebrations of their AFCON victory, was called upon to man the post on Saturday.
“We have top goalkeepers, they both perform on the top level this season. It makes it hard. The same with the other players, 25 member squad but can only field 11 players,” Cech told Channel 4.
‘We chose to go with Edou because he’s our number one goalkeeper, he came over here, trained and is fit. I think it’s a hard decision to make but he’s our number one, he plays.”
Chelsea eventually won the FIFA Club World Cup 2021 with Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz scoring for the Premier League side.
Romelu Lukaku fired Chelsea ahead but his goal was cancelled out from the penalty spot by Cavalcante Veiga.
Referee Christopher Beath awarded Chelsea a contentious penalty in the second half of the extra time for a handball.
With three minutes to the end of the game, Kai Havertz scored from the spot to give the Champions League holders their first trophy of the 2021/22 season.