Thomas Tuchel has said Chelsea have no chance of reaching the Champions League final if they don’t show enough conviction against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
Although Chelsea hold a slight advantage heading into their semi-final second leg, they saw the danger of extinguishing at that level when they drew 1-1 in Spain last week. Tuchel’s side controlled the majority of the first half and were in a strong position after a potentially crucial away goal from Christian Pulisic, only for Karim Benzema’s clear equalizer to maintain the tie.
Benzema’s goal was reminiscent of Madrid’s threat. Zinedine Zidane’s side will support each other after winning this competition 13 times and Tuchel has urged his players to seize the moment.
“The challenge will be to maintain the intensity throughout the game,” said the Chelsea coach. “The pressure is strong. This is the second and most decisive step, so arriving with a certain level of belief and self-confidence is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we don’t stand a chance against a team like Real Madrid.
“It doesn’t really help that much if your coach talks about it. We really have to feel it. If I mention it, it’s only because I’m sure they feel it and we can see it in the games – that the team is capable of producing performance. They are aware of the challenge. “
Tuchel, who is still without Mateo Kovacic due to a hamstring injury, believes Chelsea should not put unnecessary pressure on themselves by making the game a special occasion.
“The club demand that we win any game, no matter who is on the other side of the pitch,” he said. “That’s what sharpens the mentality and it’s our great strength: that we arrive as a team used to this pressure. It’s good pressure because if you do things that are too important it doesn’t help anyone and it devalues your performance in any other game.
Although a goalless draw would get Chelsea through, Tuchel is adamant that he won’t try to be too smart with his tactics. “We have no other way to prepare than to encourage my team to try to win,” he said. “If we are at our best, it goes without saying that we are aiming for the win.
“This club aims to win. This game is about winning, this competition is about winning. Forget the result of the first leg; it’s not as important as everyone thinks it is. The preparation for this match is irrelevant. We will ask them to be as strong as possible starting tomorrow from 8 p.m. The group has one goal: to defeat Real Madrid.
The main question for Tuchel, who said he has not entered into talks about a contract extension, is how to configure his attack. Although Kai Havertz is pressing for a start after scoring two fine goals as Chelsea tightened their grip on fourth place by beating Fulham 2-0 in the Premier League, Timo Werner could keep his place despite a glaring opportunity in the first leg.
“I think we all have to accept that sometimes attackers miss opportunities,” Tuchel said. “Not all the decisions have been made yet. Remember that dividing the game between defense and attack is a good thing to do, but you can easily get lost if you want to cut the football into separate pieces. It is a very complex sport.
“Timo, like everyone who plays up front, has tremendous intensity against the ball and has a huge role in us being so strong defensively. It’s a team effort. Everyone must mobilize and take responsibility for scoring and defending. “
Chelsea will need to show unity, especially with Eden Hazard set to start for the visitors. Hazard has suffered injuries since joining Madrid two years ago, but the ex-Chelsea winger will be determined to impress in his first appearance at Stamford Bridge.
“Everyone at this club has nothing but good things to say about Eden,” said Andreas Christensen, Chelsea center-back. “He’s probably going to be a big factor again. I think he has always been a player who brings a lot of happiness on the pitch. If he has this, you will also see his quality.
Chelsea, who were one of the English clubs to pull out of their intention to join a European Super League, have announced plans to include their supporters in board meetings from July 1. The three Fan Advisors, who will be chosen through an election and selection process, will not have the right to vote and will not participate in team-related meetings. Chelsea hope the move will ensure that fan sentiment influences the club’s decision-making process.