Zbetween Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea, an intimate relationship seems to be developing. After moving into the quarter-finals of the Football Champions League, the undefeated coach was now really into raptures. “From the very beginning, I felt like I was part of a family and a well-structured club,” said Tuchel after his team’s 2-0 victory over Atlético Madrid (1-0 first leg) on Wednesday. “The support is great and I really feel part of it.”
Alongside Edin Terzic (Borussia Dortmund), Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool FC) and Hansi Flick (FC Bayern Munich), Tuchel is the fourth German coach to reach the quarter-finals with his team. This has never happened in the premier class. Chelsea last reached the round of eight seven years ago. “I’m pretty sure nobody wants to play against us,” said Tuchel with a broad chest. “It will be a big step, but we need not be afraid.”
Against the astonishingly harmless Spanish leaders Atlético, the Blues – with the German internationals Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rüdiger in the starting eleven – had hardly any problems. The attackers Werner and Havertz, both on the way to old form, played a major role in Chelsea’s success and brought Hakim Ziyech’s goal (34th minute) on the way. “Timo’s submission was good and Kai’s pass before that too,” said a delighted goal scorer Ziyech.
“It can just stay that way”
The rarely enthusiastic Tuchel praised the “special connection” and the “special atmosphere” in the club in Bucharest, where the game took place due to the travel restrictions caused by the corona. “It was an incredible team effort,” said the 47-year-old, “from the boys on the pitch, the boys on the bench and even the boys in the stands.” They could be heard clearly during the game.
Realistically speaking, the championship in the Premier League is no longer possible. Tuchel can still win two titles with the Londoners this season. After advancing in the Champions League, the Blues want to make it clear to the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday. Against the knocked-down table-bottom Sheffield United this is an easy task, at least on paper.
With 13 games across all competitions without defeat since taking office in January, Thomas Tuchel has set a club record at Stamford Bridge. Both critics and fans are impressed. And if the former Mainz and Dortmund coach has its way, it should continue as successfully and harmoniously as before. “It can just stay that way,” said Tuchel, for whom the step of going to England after his disembarkation near Paris Saint-Germain was worthwhile. “That is something special and a lot of fun.”
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