Thomas Tuchel rallies Chelsea FC ahead of Champions League semi-final: ‘Don’t lower the level’
Chelsea will face the 13-time European champions in the Spanish capital, with the aim of gaining a foothold in next month’s final.
And Tuchel insists they have nothing to fear against the all-time kings of Europe, having already beaten what the Premier League has to offer and La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid at the during his three months at Stamford Bridge.
He said, “Maybe the next level is to keep the level, not to lower the level. And I firmly believe in our team that we can do it.
“Sometimes in circumstances playing against a great, experienced team and a great club in a European competition like Real Madrid, maybe the next step is to keep the level and not expect too much from us.
“Because I really believe that we have shown Tottenham, Liverpool, Atletico and Porto that we are capable of producing top-level football consistently, in all questions asked on the pitch in offensive and defensive terms.
“So the challenge for me is more to produce it again and maintain the level.”
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 improved since joining English football in January.
He also orchestrated victories against Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Diego Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti, without conceding a single goal.
Defeating 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 a row and now aiming to conquer Europe for the fourth time in two spells at the club.
Tuchel insists he has no worries about his players’ relaunch.
“We don’t have to convince them to be confident. That’s what I feel, in every game we are able to play at the highest level, ”he said.
“If it is not possible to play our best game, we are able to not let the opponent play their best game, which is also a definition of performance.
“The level is so high when you get to a Champions League semi-final. But don’t expect crazy things from us, but once again at the highest level.
“The good thing is that we have the experience together, we have had difficult games, close games, very important games in the Premier League and in the FA Cup. So we think it’s a good time to play this game, and we want to play hungry and we want to play adventurous.
“Maybe if there is a little lack of experience in the semi-finals, to make up for the hunger and enthusiasm.”
Christian Pulisic summed up the confidence in the Chelsea squad perfectly when he said: “I wouldn’t really want to play against us. I don’t think it’s an easy game ever. I think a lot of teams would say that.
“It’s the status that everyone wants to have. Real Madrid have their history and that is something you cannot deny. They are a great team and it will not be an easy challenge at all.
“It’s about going out there and respecting them, but also about believing in what we stand for and what we can do. It will be a very good game between two great teams across Europe.
“The Champions League semi-finals don’t come every day. It’s an amazing time for us and personally I’ve been looking forward to this game for weeks so absolutely it’s a great time.
“There are nerves in the preparation, but it is essential to take advantage of them.
“They are very experienced in this competition so we’re going to have to go out and have a lot of confidence. This is going to be very important.
“We belong here. We have done a lot to get to this point. Yeah, it’s just going to be about going out and believing in the ability of this team and getting some good results.