Chelsea FC win over Porto a personal triumph for Thomas Tuchel amid echoes of 2012

James Robson
·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It did not have drama of that unforgettable night at the Nou Camp, nor the Gary Neville soundtrack as Fernando Torres put the ball in the back of the net to kill off Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

But there were certainly echoes of that goal as Ben Chilwell seized on a mistake late on in Seville, rounded Agustin Marchesin and tapped home.

Indeed, there is a growing symmetry between this season and 2012, when Roberto Di Matteo picked up the scraps of Andre Villas-Boas’s reign to lead Chelsea to their finest moment.

Overcoming Porto on neutral territory is hardly the same as beating Barca, but in the context of what went before last night, it may go down as a significant moment.

This was a personal triumph for Thomas Tuchel and his handling of the first potential crisis of his reign. There was no overreaction to the 5-2 defeat to West Brom, no iron-fisted response to the Cobham clash between Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

As a result, there were no visible fractures in a game that could have provided Chelsea with another “slap in the face”, as Tuchel put it. On this evidence, he called it right — and here was further confirmation the club are in safe hands. Victory — and the nature of it — suggests his 14-game unbeaten run was not simply an extended honeymoon.

An immediate response to such a wounding defeat strengthens the belief that West Brom was an anomaly, rather than a pointer to other issues.

Perhaps Chelsea have learned more about their manager in the wake of that defeat than in the run that preceded it. Performances like last night’s are born out of a trust of the processes implemented by the manager.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

In winning his first three Champions League knockout games as Chelsea manager, Tuchel has emulated the record set by Di Matteo. The omens are good, given that was the year Chelsea were crowned champions of Europe.

Add to that the fact Tuchel’s side are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup — another trophy won by Di Matteo in that unforgettable campaign — and the similarities continue. Yet, it does a disservice to Tuchel to put Chelsea’s run down to a quirk of fate or an aligning of the stars.

Chelsea appointed an elite manager when turning to him in January. He is targeting a second straight Champions League Final after his Paris Saint-Germain side were runners-up to Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s League form would have them seriously challenging Manchester City if the season had begun when he took charge at Stamford Bridge.

Focus is on the cups because they were his only chance of silverware in his first few months in the job.

The echoes of 2012 are unavoidable – but Tuchel is doing it his way.

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