‘Almost impossible’: Tuchel still down on Chelsea hopes

Almost impossible no chance.

Thomas Tuchel’s stance on Chelsea’s hopes of reaching the Champions League semi-finals may be a bit soft.

“It’s very unlikely that we make it,” Tuchel said on Monday, “but it’s worth a try.”

Rewind last week and Tuchel ruled out his team’s chances of a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of the quarter-finals at Stamford Bridge.

“No,” was his brief answer to a question about whether Chelsea’s title defense was still alive.

And although that reaction – just minutes after the match ended – may have been fueled by a sense of despair, it is easy to see why he was so pessimistic as he looked forward to Tuesday’s second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In addition to a two-goal deficit and the opponent’s record 13-time European champion, Tuchel pointed out that Chelsea’s main advantage over Madrid – the physicality and energy of its players – has been diluted this season.

This is because Chelsea have already played 52 games in all competitions, including a trip to the Middle East for the Club World Cup in February and 30 matches in what Tuchel described as the “most demanding” domestic league in the world. .

Madrid have played seven fewer matches this season and were able to rest key players such as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for a 2-0 win over Getafe in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Tuchel also said Madrid have been able to make five substitutions in La Liga games this season – in England, teams can only make three – leaving his team at a “huge loss” and explained that Chelsea have been able to make up for Madrid’s aging. Why can’t against playing with her normal intensity but high quality midfield in the first leg.

Last season, Chelsea overtook Madrid in the semi-finals on two legs, drew the first leg in Spain – although at Madrid’s training ground while the Bernabeu was under renovation – and won the second leg 2–0.

“Playing a physical game isn’t always easy,” Tuchel said. “We are a team that requires physicality, acumen, commitment and investment to be a special team.

“We could not implement it in the last match. This was also due to his quality and ability to slow down the game and control the match through possession of the ball. ,

However, the Champions League has seen some notable changes in the knockout stage over the years. Who will forget Barcelona, ​​who recovered from a 4-0 first leg loss against Paris Saint-Germain to advance to the last 16 in 2017? Or Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0 after losing the first leg 3-0 in the semi-finals in 2019?

Tuchel may want to draw inspiration from his return to the Bernabeu six years ago, including one of his players.

Matteo Kovacic recalled on Monday how he lost 2-0 to Wolfsburg in the first leg of the quarter-finals in 2016 and won the second leg 3-0 for Madrid.

Chelsea, eager for Kovacic’s tension, have bounced back from a 3-1 loss in the first leg to advance to the first Champions League knockout. It was in 2012 – the year the London club won the competition for the first time – when they beat Napoli 4–1 in the second leg in the last 16.

“Football is always amazing,” said the Croatia midfielder.

However, the German coach seemed more confident than Tuchel, describing Chelsea’s task as “one of the biggest challenges” in football and “nearly impossible”.

“But you are always allowed to dream,” he said.

Cesar Azpilicueta is available again after testing negative for the coronavirus, but Romelu Lukaku was not traveling with the team to Spain on Monday due to an Achilles tendon injury.

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