Thomas Tuchel feels his Chelsea side are in the perfect position to take on Manchester City in tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final after the way we have overcome recent challenges and gained momentum.
Our head coach is well aware of the size of the challenge that awaits us in overcoming Pep Guardiola’s side at Wembley, as evidenced by their position 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
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However, the German feels this is the perfect time for us to face them after the progress he has seen from his Chelsea team in recent weeks.
‘We are in a good moment,’ he said. ‘We had a set-back in the home game with the red card and the loss against West Brom but we had an excellent response.
‘We had a very tough challenge that we had to face. We had two very good and intensive matches and a big challenge against Porto, with a lot of pressure, with different situations. We arrived in the first leg when everything was open, we arrived in the second leg, we are suddenly the favourites, we have to manage the game, we have to manage the result, we have to manage a lot of influences from outside.
‘I was very proud of how we did this, we did absolutely what needed to be done, we deserved a clean sheet and we deserved to win. We conceded a late goal but this did not affect us.
‘It’s a good moment now to play City and Pep. They are for me, along with Bayern Munich, the benchmark in Europe. If we manage to beat them it will be a huge boost. If not, we’ll have to accept it and take it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow, because we have some fights coming up. It’s not only about the FA Cup here, it’s about the top-four race, it’s about the Champions League too.’
He also credited the spirit among the Chelsea players and the work they put in to compete for a place in starting line-up as helping to give him confidence going into the game, with a return trip to Wembley for the FA Cup final up for grabs.
‘If you have good results, if you have good momentum, if you manage to qualify for semi-finals, in terms of atmosphere and attitude and behaviour in the dressing room, we are in a good moment.
‘We pick for a few games now the same offensive guys. The other guys need to fight for their place and they are doing this. There is not much training time in between games in the schedule that we have, but the minutes you have, you need to use.
‘It’s very important that in these moments the guys who lack some minutes and maybe a bit of self-confidence, that are not super happy with their personal situation, put their ego aside and do everything to be ready.
‘At this club it’s about being ready. We have no promises to make to our players. We have no gifts to give, you have to fight hard. This is the moment in a season at a club like this you fight hard for your place. Once you’re in the team you fight hard to stay in the team.
‘This is life as a player at Chelsea and it is big fun, you have to embrace situations like this, even if sometimes it’s a bit hard for some of the players. But we try to push them and convince them and influence them in this positive way. We have a tight schedule and we cannot drop one per cent.’