Soccer

Christian Pulisic talks Super League fiasco, fitness and Champions League Chelsea’s run to the semifinals

Chelsea’s 22-year-old  American star Christian Pulisic is in the starting lineup for the most important match of his young career on Tuesday as his club battles Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. Kickoff from Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano is set for 3 p.m. ET on Paramount+. Pulisic sat down with Kate Abdo during the Paramount+ pregame show to chat Super League, his fitness, facing Los Blancos and much more. 

The Blues have gone through a wild week-plus with all of the Super League news when the club announced its intention to join 11 others as founding members of the competition. That idea quickly dissolved due to the backlash from fans, with players and managers sharing a similar sentiment. There have been numerous calls for foreign owners to sell their clubs as a result of their participation in the failed fiasco, many of which are American, including Stan Kroenke (Arsenal), the Glazer family (Manchester United) and John W. Henry (Liverpool). 

For Pulisic, the situation has been weird, but it hasn’t been any different simply because he is American.

“I don’t think it’s been a more of a weird time for me because I’m American and in any way,” Pulisic said. “The football world was a bit shaken up over the last week. But right now it’s all about just focusing on, especially this game, and … getting good results to the end of the season.

“I think we all felt kind of similarly about it. I think, obviously, it was a big shock to us because we didn’t really have much of a say at all. We didn’t know much of what was going on. So in the end it wasn’t up to us. We literally had a game the next day, so it was just about focusing on that where we really weren’t … too much involved with it.”

Pulisic enters the Real Madrid tie on a fine run of form, having started the team’s last four games. In those matches, he’s got two goals, which came against Crystal Palace, while having created eight chances and produced 10 shots. He has played 344 out of 360 minutes in the last four after having only accumulated 288 minutes in the previous 11 matches. 

Part of that has been because of a lack of form and fitness as others in the team have stepped up. And while the Pennsylvania native has dealt with four injuries this season that saw him miss a total of 14 games, he told Abdo this week he’s back to 100 percent fitness and is ready to go.

“I’m feeling very good and healthy and definitely ready to go [against Real Madrid],” Pulisic said. “And yeah, my body is feeling very good.

“I think I’ve continued to always try to take the best care of my body that I can, and then doing whatever I can to do that. Obviously, you can’t always control injuries, and that is part of the game. I’m just doing the absolute best that I can to maintain my fitness and be an option always for my team.”

Pulisic is viewing these games against the 13-time UCL winners as the biggest of his career, but he’s confident his team will be ready despite a lack of experience deep in this competition. Chelsea do not boast a player on their current squad that has won the Champions League, while Real have 13 players who have at least one, if not multiple, titles on their resume.

“I guess you could say that just because it’s the Champions League,” Pulisic said. “It’s the biggest competition, you know, in Europe … These are definitely some massive games.”

Given Pulisic’s recent form, it’s no surprise that Thomas Tuchel chose to keep him in the starting XI ahead of this one. To follow live updates of the match, click here


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