Kepa Arrizabalaga has been lauded for his vital saves in Chelsea’s penalty shootout against Villareal in the UEFA Super Cup.
The game ended 1-1 with Hakim Ziyech scoring from close-range before Gerard Moreno equalising for the Spanish side with a well-taken hit.
But the main talking point of the game was Thomas Tuchel’s bold move to channel his inner-Louis van Gaal and take off goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in place of Kepa for the shootout.
Tuchel’s strategy worked like a charm as justified as Kepa superbly saved Raúl Albiol’s penalty to claim the trophy for the London side.
He’s a Kepa
“We needed to do what was good for the team,” said Tuchel after the game. “Kepa has the better percentages at saving penalties.”
Kepa has been out of sorts during his time with Chelsea. His poor form last season prompted the purchase of Mendy.
But the real nadir reached the season before last when Kepa seemingly refused to come off for Maurizio Sarri.
He told The Players’ Tribune: “It was all a big misunderstanding. “Suddenly, I saw that the coach had sent Willy Caballero to warm up. He thought I couldn’t go on.
“Manchester City were dominating the game in extra-time and there was barely any time left until penalties.
“After making a save, I felt something in my leg and I called for the physio to make sure it was nothing. Above all, though, I wanted to make sure that we as a team could catch our breath.
“Suddenly, I saw that the coach, Maurizio Sarri, had sent Willy Caballero to warm up. He thought I couldn’t go on.
“My intention, right or wrong, had only been to waste time to help the team. I didn’t have any serious problem that was going to keep me from continuing to play.
“I tried to signal that I was okay, that I wasn’t injured. But we were at Wembley in front of more than 80,000 people, so of course Sarri didn’t understand me.
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