Chelsea sack Tuchel: Champions League glory and Lukaku lethargy – the German's highs and lows

·3-min read

Thomas Tuchel has been dismissed by Chelsea following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Dinamo Zagreb, ending a near-20-month stay at Stamford Bridge.

The German arrived midway through the 2021-22 season as Frank Lampard's successor, and steered the Blues to an improbable Champions League triumph just weeks later.

But despite success for the former Paris Saint-Germain boss in Europe, domestic glory has been harder to come by.

This week's defeat to Zagreb was the final straw for new owner Todd Boehly, after a slow start to the new Premier League season that has seen Chelsea win just three of their first six games.

In the wake of his departure, Stats Perform takes a look at the highs and lows of the Tuchel era at Stamford Bridge...

HIGH: European glory from the ashes

Having stepped in to replace Lampard with Chelsea ninth in the Premier League and slipping away from European qualification, Tuchel did more than steer them back on track – he pulled off a shock silverware smash-and-grab.

Not only did he drag them to an eventual fourth-place finish, he oversaw two-legged wins over Porto and Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final – and there, shocked favourites Manchester City to claim the Blues' second title in Europe's biggest club competition.

LOW: Ignominy on the continent

For that high-water mark, however, Chelsea have also had issues at continental level, perhaps best exemplified by two disparate results – this week's loss to Zagreb and last season's Champions League quarter-final exit to Madrid.

Defeat to the Croatian side came with a toothless attack that failed to gel for the German, but the crash against Madrid – when they allowed Karim Benzema to find an extra-time winner – showcased their struggle to close out games.

HIGH: Final delights...

In the time Tuchel has been in charge at Stamford Bridge, he reached all three domestic cup finals available to him, with FA Cup showpiece appearances in 2021 and 2022, and an EFL Cup trip to Wembley, too.

That saw him stand alone in the history of the club and cemented his reputation as something of a cup specialist.

LOW: ...and failures

But on each occasion, he failed to guide the Blues over the line, losing last season to underdogs Leicester City before suffering a pair of defeats against a quadruple-chasing Liverpool side this year.

While he has enjoyed greater success abroad, the struggles at Wembley have haunted his reputation – and may well have played a part in his ultimate dismissal.

HIGH: Champions of the world

Chelsea's Champions League triumph qualified them for a shot at two more major prizes last season – and credit is due for Tuchel guiding them to both, allowing them to stake a claim as the greatest club team in world football.

A nervy Super Cup win over Villarreal was aided by Kepa Arrizabalaga's penalty shootout heroics, while Kai Havertz' extra-time penalty helped the Blues sink Palmeiras to be crowned Club World Cup winners.

LOW: Lukaku lethargy

If there is to be a player that marks Tuchel's legacy at Chelsea outside of his Champions League triumph though, it will almost certainly be Romelu Lukaku – one of the worst transfer flops in recent memory.

Returning to Chelsea after a Serie A title win with Inter, hopes were high for the Belgian's homecoming, but his poor form and difficulties within the German's system saw him frozen out over the latter half of the season.

Lukaku returned to Inter on a year-long loan over the off-season, with just eight Premier League goals in 26 games, and it remains to be seen whether he ever steps foot back in Stamford Bridge again or, if like Tuchel, his time at the club is now over.