Thomas Tuchel believes his team need to be prepared for anything when we take on Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final, but has no concerns about complacency.
Chelsea lead the tie 2-0 after Kai Havertz’s early strike and an own goal by Ben Davies gave us victory in the first match at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday, and we travel across London to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow evening looking to finish the job and book our place at Wembley.
However, our head coach dismissed claims that the Blues already have one foot in the final after the first leg, insisting anything can still happen when you face an in-form team like Spurs in a big derby match, especially with a place in a cup final up for grabs.
‘I would actually say we have no foot in the final,’ said Tuchel. ‘Why would you think about whether we have one foot or half a foot, why would you use energy thinking about this? We play another tough match in a tough stadium against a very good team and a top coach.
‘So we need to be prepared and it’s maybe better not to expect too much because nobody knows what is going to happen. We need to be fully aware of everything and we need to adapt to the situations that happen to us on the pitch.
‘Anything can happen in football, we want to make it happen on our side. If problems or obstacles occur, it’s our duty to respond, to show reactions and this is what we do. I’m very sure that everybody knows we play a very important match in a derby against Tottenham, a big stadium, a big club and a very competitive coach on the other side. So we need our best level.’
The German also doesn’t foresee complacency due to our two-goal advantage becoming an issue for his players, as he knows them well enough to trust that their winning mentality and desire to succeed will guard against it, especially in a semi-final.
‘Of course we want to control the match and try to attack as much as possible. We had a very good match in the first leg but it’s over, it’s the past, and we expect the best possible Tottenham side. We prepared in the best possible manner for the first match, we will do this again and then we have to be spot on tomorrow, forget the first game, forget the first result and do it again.
'We trust ourselves. We always prepare properly and we are always on the front foot and we have huge respect for the competition, we have big respect for all our opponents, we have respect for the game. If you respect the game and respect the talent and the opportunities that we have, it’s our obligation to be prepared.
‘I have trust in me, in my staff and also in my team, my players. This is what we do, this is what we are used to, to arrive well-prepared, otherwise you have no chance to win consistently and to win on that level. We proved it, that’s why I think we can allow ourselves to trust on this one, that we have the right attitude. If we have the attitude right then we will have the game right. We had a good result in the first leg because we had a good game and it was a good win, but now it starts from scratch.’
Tuchel also discussed Christian Pulisic, who has fulfilled a number of different roles in the team over recent weeks, switching between his natural position as a winger, in addition to playing as our central striker and as a wing-back on both sides.
While our head coach believes that versatility is a good thing for the player due to the increased opportunities it provides, he also admits such improvisation is a symptom of the strain injuries and Covid is putting on our squad.
‘We moved him around a little bit but in the end they want to play and it’s a good thing if they can play more positions. You can always argue they could have been more consistent or better if they have one clear position, but maybe then they have less minutes and they face even more competition because up front we have two or three players for every position. So first of all it’s a good thing.
‘It was also a bad sign because it means that we had trouble on the left and right wing-back with injuries and he helped us out there. We are happy with the impact that he has. He can play a lot of minutes, he needs to play a lot of minutes. He has a physical ability that can help us. Of course everybody wants him to have numbers, everybody wants him to be effective and we can all improve on that and from there we go. That is the situation.’