Thomas Tuchel contrasted his feelings during Wednesday night’s win over Real Madrid with those of his players after a 2-0 triumph and 3-1 victory on aggregate set up a second cup final this month for his side, and means they join Chelsea Women in earning a place in their respective Champions League showpiece in 2020/21, ensuring the club is the first to have finalists in both in the same year.
Timo Werner netted in the first half of tonight’s semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge and the team could easily have put the tie to bed sooner, but missed a host of chances before Mason Mount did complete the job with a late finish.
It was during that second-half spell when the ball did not go in the net that Tuchel admits he started to feel more negatively about the eventual outcome than his players appeared to.
‘Any chance that you don’t take and you miss, you know you play on the edge because Real Madrid can hurt you any second out of absolutely nothing, by pure individual quality,’ our head coach said.
‘So to hang in there, to continue with positive body language, to hang in there physically and with the mental attitude like today, to stay active, to never stop trying to play for the second goal, never allowing Real Madrid to push us deep and create chances, this is really huge.
‘So I am absolutely delighted with this spirit and big credit and big congratulations to the team.
‘I got sucked in,’ he admitted, ‘but I never saw a change in body language, we stayed positive and brave. Again we managed to have a clean sheet and again it was well-deserved with a strong goalkeeper and guys who were really committed to defend and we wanted it badly, and that is the key.
‘It was another energetic performance, full of positive attitude, full of hunger, and what spirit we showed in moments when we needed to suffer in the first half, and what a reaction in the second half. The heads were never down, the heads were always up even after the big chances we missed. We always stayed positive and we never regretted some things, so it was fantastic.’
The Blues play Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday before facing them again three weeks later in Istanbul in what will be a big climax to the season. Still fresh in the minds is knocking Pep Guardiola’s side out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stage.
‘This doesn’t give us the upper hand but it gives us a good feeling, it gives us self-confidence,’ said Tuchel, who describes City as one of the bench marks for Chelsea to be measured against.
‘We wanted to close the gap to Manchester City and in this one match in the semi-final we did in a very impressive performance, and we will need exactly the same level of performance again. But it gave us belief.
‘We will arrive with self-confidence and a positive energy in Istanbul and hopefully with no injured players, and we will arrive there with a clear focus to win.’