Tuchel rates Chelsea’s Champions League chances

Thomas Tuchel has acknowledged the Blues will be a major scalp for anyone in Europe this season as the Champions League holders, even if he would still like his side to go under the radar in the competition.

Our ascent to the biggest crown in domestic football last season was as dramatic as it was unexpected, with many pundits predicting we would not even beat Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.

Victory against them and Porto placed us in the semi-finals but even then, Real Madrid were the favourites to progress. Come the final in Portugal there was no doubting of Chelsea’s credentials, but Manchester City remained most people’s picks to lift the trophy.

Balancing expectations now we are the holders is one of Tuchel’s tasks this season, and at his press conference today he explained how he plans on doing that.

‘It’s hard to be seen as an underdog when you just won the title,’ said the boss.

‘We were not the favourites last season but we got better with every match, and grew in confidence. We were seen as real contenders very late in the competition and that can sometimes help.

‘Now it is easy to make us the favourites. We have the experience and that brings a higher value to play against us. It is a higher motivation to play against us, and we have to accept this.

‘There is no secret,’ he added.

‘We like the role of being an outsider or a challenger to the title, which we still are. I don’t think we are the favourites, but we showed everybody what performances we are capable of.

‘It’s very important we make ourselves free from these expectations, and these expectations do not become our expectations. We need to stay realistic. We demand high standards and the better we do this, the better for our performance.’

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