After watching his side fall to a 3-1 defeat in the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, Thomas Tuchel reflected on a below-par performance from his side
Karim Benzema became the first ever player to score a European hat-trick against Chelsea, the Frenchman’s quick brace of first-half headers followed by a decisive third when he capitalised on a mix-up at the back to quell our comeback.
Kai Havertz had reduced the deficit to 2-1 with a brave header but that goal ultimately proved to be a consolation as we suffered a second home loss in five days, conceding seven in that time.
‘It is a heavy loss,’ admitted the Blues head coach. ‘It was one of the worst first halves that I saw from us here at Stamford Bridge. At this kind of level you cannot play like this individually or as a team.
‘From all of us, we were by far not good enough, we were not doing what we are used to doing. The first half was so far from any standards that we set ourselves.’
Tuchel pinpointed a lack of precision in the pass and strength in the tackle as reasons behind our difficult first half, while chances spurned after the break also proved costly.
‘Everything went wrong in the first half,’ he added. ‘It was not only about when we pass, how we pass. It was also the intensity in challenges and the desire.
‘In the second half I think we had 16 shots to one shot. You can always come back and equalise but if you concede again after 48 minutes it is harder and harder. Still, we had chances in the second half to make it 3-2 and this could have been crucial but not today.’
Tuchel feels his side are struggling to rediscover their pre-international break form…
‘We have to find our level back. I don’t know where it is since the international break but the first half today was a repetition of the second half against Brentford.
‘In a quarter-final against Real Madrid, you cannot expect a result from this kind of performance.’
He was asked whether the hectic schedule is catching up with his players…
‘I was a bit shocked when I saw the amount of games we played in 2022. We were the team with Liverpool to play by far more matches than anybody else in England, and also with three extra-times on top of it.
‘It is a bit worrying and the schedule is not our friend in this season but we can still play better.'
The boss explained his half-time changes, which saw Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech come on…
‘We wanted to change the formation and to turn things around because I think personally there was enough where we could hurt them but we were so far off our level in everything the game demands – tactically, individually, in shape.
‘We tried to play in a new formation but we killed the game off with a big mistake after three minutes. It was a tactical change and like always it’s never on one or two players, it’s on all of us and I’m included in this.’
Rather than assess our chances of a tie turnaround, Tuchel preferred to switch focus to our next league game…
‘The tie is not alive with this performance. How many clubs in worldwide football won with a three-goal difference? It’s only realistic to answer like this so we shouldn’t think I’m giving the wrong message. We need to find our competitive spirit, our quality, and then we can talk.
‘I worry more about Southampton than Real Madrid in the next week, that’s my focus. We have to get things ready for Saturday and not think about the Bernabeu because on Saturday we face Southampton and if we continue to play like this, we will not get a point.
‘I think this is very important to process this first, it is crucial. We have to make sure everybody processes this.'