Thomas Tuchel has told Chelsea they must get used to the added pressure that comes with being the reigning holders of the Champions League.
Tuchel guided Chelsea to victory in the Champions League after taking over midway through last season. They beat Manchester City in an all-English final. Now, after winning their first match of the current season’s group stage, they are aiming to continue their defence of the trophy.
Beating Zenit at home on matchday one was a challenge in itself, but Wednesday’s visit to Turin to face Juventus will be even tougher. Tuchel’s job is to ensure they bounce back from a Premier League defeat to City at the weekend and continue their good form on the continent.
Ahead of the Juventus game, the German tactician admitted there is greater expectation upon his side after what they achieved last season.
He told his pre-match press conference: “Maybe there is expectation. We came from a role that wasn’t favourites last season and we got better with every match and now we are appeared as a real contender.
“Now it is of course easy to make us the favourites. We have the experience that means there is a higher value and motivation to play against us. We have to accept this.”
With Juventus, Chelsea will meet another of Europe’s biggest clubs on whom there is always pressure.
The Old Lady have not started particularly well in Serie A since the return of Max Allegri. But Tuchel is not underestimating them by any means.
He said: “They are such a big club. Yes they have had some troubles, a rough start but they were very convincing in the Champions League.
“They are reliable. It is a no-brainer, they demand respect.”
Tuchel also assessed Juventus’ loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, who re-joined Manchester United this summer.
“Time will tell but it is no secret that any team without Cristiano, in some parts of the game, will be weaker. They have a deep and big squad. They are a very proud club.
“It is my first time to play Juventus in this competition and we face a hard competitor.”
Tuchel confirms Kante one of four absentees
Something that will make it tougher for Chelsea is the unavailability of four key players.
Tuchel confirmed that N’Golo Kante has tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore must isolate. It means the midfielder will miss the game against Juventus and the subsequent Premier League clash with Southampton, ruling him out until after the October international break.
There are also three other injury issues for the Chelsea coach to deal with.
He said: “Christian [Pulisic], Reece [James] and Mason [Mount] are out through injury. N’Golo has tested positive for Covid-19.”
Tuchel then confirmed he himself has been vaccinated against the virus, but admitted he does not know how many of his players have.