Thomas Tuchel was in a relaxed mood as he conducted his final media conference before the Champions League final and claimed the tension was building naturally ahead of the biggest game in European football.
The Blues take on Manchester City in the Estadio do Dragao on Saturday evening for the most sought-after prize in continental football and it was on Porto’s home turf that Tuchel addressed journalists via video call for one final time this season.
After flying from London yesterday afternoon, the team had enjoyed a carefree day in the Portuguese sunshine before training at the stadium this evening. Preparations have been running smoothly, even if the magnitude of the occasion has become increasingly difficult to ignore.
‘We were very concentrated yesterday and we had to be because we had a tactical session so that was in the manner that we normally do tactical sessions,’ said the boss.
‘I don’t want to pretend that this is a normal week because it’s not and everybody feels different about it but we arrive and the countdown is on for a big, big match, maybe the biggest match in Europe.
‘It’s a very exciting, very demanding week mentally and physically so we need to get it right.’
Tuchel reported that the players had used their downtime to relax and reconnect with their passion for football ahead of a game in which lifelong dreams can be fulfilled.
‘Today was a very relaxed day,’ he continued. ‘We had the possibility to enjoy some quality time in the beautiful hotel with beautiful weather, to relax and to breathe a bit.
‘It was a time to connect with our core, our love and passion for the game, that we all share as little kids. The tension is building very naturally and of course if you can wish for something, we don’t want to arrive in the final over-excited or under-excited, or to play cool when you are not cool.
‘The best thing is to admit your feelings when you’re nervous. You’re not the only guy, maybe the coach is as well, and you can use it to be on your best level. Pressure is sometimes a huge boost and sometimes it’s a big back pack to carry so just admit it.
‘Some words maybe will help but in general let’s be who we are because we are a strong group. We have genuine trust and genuine belief in what we do and what we are capable of, as long as we do things together. We will absolutely be together - everybody will be here as a strong Chelsea group to do the last step and win this cup.’
The Chelsea head coach was also asked whether his experiences in the final last season, albeit on the losing side as Paris Saint-Germain were beaten by Bayern Munich, would be useful nine months on.
While he acknowledged that he and his staff had learnt lessons from that painful loss, Tuchel also felt it was less relevant given the fact he was at a new club and so faced new challenges.
‘It’s a different team and a very different situation,’ he answered. ‘If I was a player, I would not like my coach to talk about his personal experience of the last year. I don’t think that would help me.
‘If we had this experience together then we could use it and share it and grow from it but it was for me and my staff. Experience is a crucial thing in coaching and after every match I’m smarter because this is the demand I have to myself.
‘But I don’t think we can draw lines and say this is the key point that we did wrong or that we have to learn and step up from that to make it happen. We need every match to evolve as coaches and this was a big part of it.
‘We feel that we’ve come a long way. We have six matches played in the Champions League together, Frank [Lampard] played with Chelsea a fantastic group stage so we feel that we worked hard to be here and we feel absolutely the hunger that we are not happy yet.
‘We want to do the last step. We are here to win, maybe as slight underdogs but that changes nothing. We want to close the gap and leave Porto with the trophy.’