Christian Pulisic expects an exciting Champions League encounter with Real Madrid tomorrow night, and the American has underlined what Chelsea must do if we are to leave Spain with a positive first-leg result.
Pulisic is one of the few players in the Blues squad with experience of playing Real Madrid in the Champions League, having done so on four occasions in the group stage during his time at Borussia Dortmund.
The 22-year-old answered the media’s questions from Cobham before setting off to the Spanish capital with his team-mates. Understandably, tomorrow’s massive match was high on the agenda.
‘It’s key to really try to enjoy the moment,’ said Pulisic.
‘Champions League semi-finals don’t come around every day. It’s an amazing time for us. Personally I’ve been looking forward to this game for weeks. It’s a big moment, there are nerves and a lot of preparation involved.
‘The key is going to be having a really good start to the match, showing our energy and showing we’re ready for this competition.
‘They are going to be calm and experienced, and we have to be in that same way. We are going to need to go out and have a lot of confidence. We belong here. We have really accomplished a lot to get to this point, and we need to believe in our ability.
‘I wouldn’t really want to play against us,’ added Pulisic of Chelsea’s own fear factor.
‘It’s not an easy game, ever. A lot of teams would tell you that. That’s the status we want to have.
‘Of course Real Madrid have their history and it’s not going to be an easy challenge. It’s about going there, respecting them, but also believing in what we stand for and what we do. It’s going to be a really good match-up between two big teams across Europe.’
Pulisic has been in excellent form this month since returning from international duty with USA, and he explained in the press conference some of the reasons why he thinks that is the case.
‘I feel very confident in my body and my fitness level at the moment,’ said Pulisic.
‘I have played a string of games. I never thought as myself as a player who was injury prone or anything. I have had some tough times in the past year and a bit, but it’s about taking care of my body and putting myself in the best position to be available for every game. I feel good about that now.
‘Consistency is everything. That’s where I want to be. It did help getting away with the national team and getting some games. Coming back, I felt very confident and I still feel that way. Right now, it’s about keeping up that form and trying to help my team to win these big games coming up.’
Inevitably, Pulisic had to field a couple of questions about Eden Hazard, a previous incumbent of the no.10 shirt at Chelsea. His Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane today confirmed Hazard is fit for the first leg.
‘He was an incredible player at this football club,’ acknowledged a humble Pulisic.
‘He was someone who I definitely looked up to. I am not comparing myself to him in any way or trying to be like him. I’m my own player and I’m doing my best for this club. It’s an honour to hear comparisons but I still have a way to go.
‘We’re moving on without him. I never played with him so I only know how it is without him. We are in a good place now. We are in the semi-final of the Champions League. We have got a lot to play for this season, and this team definitely is in a good situation.’