Thomas Tuchel can take a page out of Jose Mourinho’s handbook as they both share similar experiences with their squads ahead of Champions League quarter final.
Former Chelsea’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gives a press conference at Stamford Bridge in London on April 7, 2014 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea have given themselves a steep hill to climb as they take to the Bernabeu on Tuesday night. The reigning European champions will take on competition royalty in their home stadium.
The Blues faced a 3-1 defeat in the first leg and it will be a big ask to come away with the win in the second. As much as we commend Tuchel for his honesty, it was a bittersweet pill to swallow having heard him refer to the tie as being over. To be fair his frustrations mimicked exactly what Chelsea fans were thinking.
However, he has since circled back with fighting words. With intent to shake the table with Chelsea, the same way they did in 2012, the same way Jose Mourinho did in 2014.
It’s a big ask, but Tuchel implies that our Champions will not go down without a fight.
Let’s start off by keeping positive. It’s not over yet. This tie is still very much so alive. I know it’s difficult to keep optimistic, however, there’s so much to play for.Los Blancos are not unstoppable, as Paris Saint-Germain came close to proving. Granted that Mauricio Pochettino’s side fumbled their 2-0 lead to a Karim Benzema, but that’s no reason to give up before the tie commences.
Earlier Mateo Kovacic gave Chelsea fans a reminder and a bit of hope to cling to, saying: “Many comebacks. I was included in one! 2015/16, we lost the game 2-0 in Wolfsburg and came to the Bernabeu and won 3-0. There are many comebacks. Chelsea against Napoli. 3-1 at Napoli and at Stamford Bridge we came back.”
Fans remember the year Chelsea made an emphatic comeback against Napoli in the Champions League. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edison Cavani at the time, one of football’s most lethal partnerships had given Chelsea’s defence a tough time in the first leg. The Blues left with a 3-1 defeat and returned with a 4-1 victory. The main catalyst in driving that comeback was the mentality of the players. The mentality to prove to themselves that they are capable of a comeback as opposed to accepting defeat.
You can say that there are several differences between today’s Chelsea team and the one in 2012. Let’s face it, the mentality monsters like Didier Drogba, John Terry and Petr Cech had years of vengeance built up in them to drag them to the Champions League final. Despite falling short against Napoli, they did not go out without a fight.
Thomas Tuchel has inherited a young group of players whose mentality is driven by fulfilling their childhood dreams. However, they have a manager who has the mentality that is needed to lead them to a victory that can change their perspective.
When asked, ‘If this is where the title defence ends, how do Champions end it?’ Thomas Tuchel replied: “By not accepting it before it ends. By not accepting it and by leaving everything on the pitch that we have and by showing we can work harder, play better, that we know we can take more risks and that we show our true face and live up to our full potential. That’s what we should do first.”
We often hear pundits speak highly of Manchester United or Barcelona DNA, now it is time to talk about Chelsea’s. It is in Chelsea’s DNA to come back from a challenge like this. Looking back to the 2013/14 campaign, the Blues had yet another steep hill to climb when they lost 3-1 to PSG in the first leg of their quarter-final. Jose Mourinho knew he had a tough task with the group of players he had.
“It’s a difficult job [to reach the semi-finals] but not impossible.” Jose Mourinho following that defeat.
“They are the kind of team that with the players they have that out of nothing they can score goals. So we don’t have an easy job. We are not a team full of talent to score lots of goals, especially at this level but we never know. We have to try. We have to go with everything.”
Chelsea went on to win the tie 2-0 at home, sending them to the semi-finals of the Champions League. You heard what Mourinho had to say. He did not have the players that score a lot of goals, but a manager like that was able to turn it around. It’s the same narrative for Thomas Tuchel today.