Thomas Tuchel issues Chelsea FC rallying cry ahead of Champions League semi-final: ‘Don’t drop the level’

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James Robson
·4-min read
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel has told his big-game hunters to make another statement in Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.

Chelsea face the 13-time European champions in the Spanish capital, aiming to put one foot in next month’s final.

And Tuchel insists they have nothing to fear against the all-time kings of Europe, having already beaten the best the Premier League has to offer and LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid in his three months in charge at Stamford Bridge.

He said: “Maybe the next level is to keep the level, don’t drop the level. And I strongly believe in our squad that we can do this.

“Sometimes in circumstances playing against a big, experienced team and a huge club in European competition like Real Madrid, maybe the next step is to keep the level and not to over-expect from us.

“Because I truly believe that we showed in Tottenham, Liverpool and Atletico and Porto that we are capable of consistently producing high-level football, in all questions that are asked on the pitch in offensive and defensive terms.

“So the challenge is for me more to produce it again, and to keep the level up.”

Chelsea beat Premier League leaders Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals earlier this month, adding Pep Guardiola to the list of stellar managers Tuchel has bettered since arriving in English football in January.

He has also masterminded wins against Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Diego Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti, without conceding a single goal.

Overcoming Zinedine Zidane could be his biggest test yet, with the Real Madrid manager proving a master in the Champions League, winning it three times in succession and now aiming to conquer Europe for the fourth time in two spells at the club.

Will Thomas Tuchel ace his latest tough test as Blues boss?POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Will Thomas Tuchel ace his latest tough test as Blues boss?POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Tuchel insists he has no concerns about his players delivering again.

“We don’t have to talk them into being confident. This is what I feel, every match, we are able to play on the highest level,” he said.

“If it’s not possible to play our nicest match we are able to not let the opponent play their best match, which is also a definition of performance.

“The level is so high when you arrive at a Champions League semi-final. But we should not expect crazy things from us, but the same again on the highest level.

“The good thing is we have the experience together, we’ve had tough matches, tight matches, very important matches in the Premier League and FA Cup. So we feel that it’s a good moment to play this match, and we want to play hungry and we want to play adventurous.

“Maybe if there’s a bit of a lack of experience in a semi-final, to compensate with hunger and enthusiasm.”

Christian Pulisic perfectly summed up the confidence running through the Chelsea squad, saying: “I wouldn’t really want to play against us. I don’t think it is an easy game ever. I think a lot of teams would say that.

Christian Pulisic believes that no team wants to face Chelsea right nowPOOL/AFP via Getty Images
Christian Pulisic believes that no team wants to face Chelsea right nowPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

“That’s the status everyone wants to have. Real Madrid have their history and that’s something you can’t deny. They are a great team and it is not going to be an easy challenge at all.

“It is about going there and respecting them, but also believing in what we stand for and what we can do. It is going to be a really good match-up between two big teams across Europe.

“Champions League semi-finals don’t come around every day. It is an amazing time for us and personally, I have been looking forward to this game for weeks so absolutely, it is a big moment.

“There are nerves in the preparation involved, but it is key to enjoy it.

“They are very experienced in this competition so we are going to need to go out and have a lot of confidence. That’s going to be very important.

“We belong here. We have accomplished a lot to get to this point. Yes, it is just going to be about going out and believing in this team’s ability and get a couple of good results.”

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