Christensen: We can't let them breathe

Andreas Christensen has spoken about the importance of showing plenty of steel in defence when we face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals at Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening.

After a 1-1 draw in last week’s first leg in Madrid, Chelsea know that a clean sheet in west London tomorrow will guarantee us a place in the Champions League final, thanks to Christian Pulisic’s away goal at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

According to the centre-back, he isn’t feeling any added pressure on the defence due to that fact, and believes the key will be to stay calm and repeat our performance from the first match and our recent games in general.

‘We know that we are a difficult team to play against at the moment, but at the same time we have so much quality up front and in the way we play,’ Christensen explained. ‘So there’s no extra pressure from our side, we will just try to do what we normally do, what we’ve done for so long now, and at the same time show our quality going forward.’

He also claimed a big part of that is to continue ensuring we are a team that opponents hate playing against, with that relentless approach without the ball contributing immensely to our impressive number of clean sheets under head coach Thomas Tuchel.

‘We changed the system, which obviously worked really well, and every game we are growing, not just as a back five but as a whole team. We’re trying to be a very difficult team to play against, a horrible team, and then as soon as we get the ball we want to play good football, quick football, with a lot of energy.

‘Everyone’s just trying to work on the same idea, there are new ideas coming across that we’ve tried to take onboard very quickly, and at the moment we’re growing and when things work out you gain confidence and you’re just trying to do the same things, work on the same things and make things work even better than they are at the moment.

‘There’s a lot of structure and a lot of discipline involved, especially when we don’t have the ball. We want to bring a lot of energy, we can’t let them breathe too much. We try to be smart about it so we don’t run ourselves out of energy at the top level. As soon as we get the ball we either take it calm or we take a quick decision to play direct.

‘Against teams that are used to having the ball a lot, we might need to herd them, if that makes sense, and when we have the ball they might not like to run, so we need to use that. So we are always thinking about what we can do to help ourselves and there’s a lot of details to it.’

If we are successful in that aim of progressing against Real Madrid, it will mean our first Champions League final appearance since we won the competition for the first time in 2012. Back then, Christensen was on the verge of joining the club as a youngster, with the chance of repeating that success one of the reasons he was keen to come to Stamford Bridge.

‘It’s something we really want to try and win. That’s why we all play football, for these big trophies,’ he added. ‘I knew already that I was going to go to Chelsea when they won it and I was following it very closely. So I had that hope at the time, and it’s still there, that I want to do that too one day. Everyone at the club wants to be part of this history.

‘Obviously I’d just turned 16 so I was quite young and knew it was probably a long road before I could be a part of it, but the quality that was at the club and the whole set-up, that was what got me here in the first place.

‘We’ve been fighting for it again for a long time and it hasn’t quite happened, but I think we are in a good position. We have a good balance between the young hunger and the more experienced players. We’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow in the sense that it means a lot to us and the club as a whole.’