Thomas Tuchel pointed out Chelsea’s “hunger to defend” after they overcame Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final – but he isn’t thinking about that match yet.
Chelsea booked their place in the final by winning the second leg of their last-four tie with Madrid 2-0. It sealed a 3-1 aggregate win for Tuchel’s side. He has made a huge impact since taking over in January and the reward will come with a showpiece final against Manchester City.
There will be a precursor to the final in Chelsea’s next Premier League fixture, when they visit the Etihad Stadium. Before they think about that game or indeed the final, Tuchel could reflect on a job well done.
Chelsea put in a professional performance to keep control of the tie after the 1-1 draw in Spain last week. Goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount booked their tickets for Istanbul.
Tuchel admitted that they had to suffer at times in the second leg but it showed that their desire was never in question.
“It was difficult in the first half when they had a lot of possession and made us suffer,” he told BT Sport.
“We were dangerous on counter attacks, but never lost the desire or hunger to defend.
“It was a fantastic performance in the second half, and we could have scored more earlier to be safe.
“It is a fantastic achievement and big congratulations to the team.
“Real Madrid, of course, are always dangerous. they can turn nothing into goals. So, to hang in there, even when you have chances and miss them, they never lost concentration, focus, and a positive energy on the pitch. This was a huge performance.”
Even though the excitement for the final will already be growing, Tuchel is not looking too far ahead. He reminded that there could be injuries or changes in form for either side before then.
“Ask me four days before the final! It is too early, because there can be injured players, out of form or whatever happens,” he added.
“We need to wait and see, hopefully we arrive with the whole squad and in a good moment, because it is not done yet.
“We want to go all the way, and that means arriving in Istanbul wanting to win.”
‘Grateful’ Tuchel praises ‘solid’ Mendy
The first ever manager to reach consecutive Champions League finals with different clubs, ex-PSG boss Tuchel was beaming.
“I am very happy that we have achieved this,” he said. “I am very grateful and thankful to have this opportunity to live my life in football and this passion as a profession. So grateful to do it on this level and to get to another final, I’m very grateful for that.
“You can never be ahead of plan as a manager and as a player – it does not exist.”
Tuchel has outwitted some of the sport’s finest coaches during his time with Chelsea, often keeping clean sheets against them as well.
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has had a role in that and once again showed his importance at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel was enthusiastic about his performance.
“Even against Fulham, it was the same: he was solid and so, so strong, strong hands, intelligence and he kept a clean sheet again.”