Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea are confident of beating Manchester City after they set up an all-English Champions League final with an accomplished 3-1 aggregate victory against Real Madrid.
Chelsea, who could end the season with two trophies, are one game from European glory after goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount saw off Madrid at Stamford Bridge.
They dominated both legs against the Spanish champions and Tuchel feels his side will take belief from winning their FA Cup semi-final against City last month when they resume hostilities with Pep Guardiola’s team in Istanbul on May 29.
“It gives us a good feeling, it gives us self-confidence,” Tuchel said. “We played that semi-final on the edge and we used it because Bayern Munich, with Manchester City, are the benchmark. We wanted to close the gap to Man City in the semi-final, which we did and we will need the same level of performance again. But it gave us belief for every game after that because it’s the highest level you can face.
“We have these huge challenges in Premier League. We came out of it very strongly, so we will arrive with confidence and a positive energy in Istanbul, hopefully with no injured players. We will arrive in Istanbul to win, not to be one of the participants.”
Chelsea, who meet Leicester in the FA Cup final on May 15, have been outstanding since appointing Tuchel in January. They have risen to fourth in the Premier League and they outplayed a feeble Madrid, creating countless chances before ensuring Tuchel became the first manager to reach the final with two different clubs in consecutive seasons.
The German was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain when they lost against Bayern Munich last year.
“It was another energetic performance,” Tuchel said. “What a spirit. We needed to suffer in the first half and what a reaction in the second half.
“The heads were never down even after big chances. We always stayed positive and we never regretted something, so it was fantastic. The job is not done yet. We are in two finals now.”
Chelsea, who are in the final for the first time since 2012, should have seen Madrid off long before Mount’s late goal.
“It was a tough game,” Mount said. “We should have had five. I should have had one 20 minutes before I scored. We want to go into every game winning it. But it’s not over, there’s one game left. It’s going to be a stunning game.”
Tuchel was full of anxiety when his forwards spurned opportunities in the second half.
“I think maybe I was more negative than my players for some minutes,” he said. “We were playing on the edge but the influence from my players to me was huge. I never saw a change in body language. We stayed positive and very brave. We didn’t regret things.
“This was a big reaction. On the sideline you always worry because you know you play on the edge with Real Madrid, they can always score a goal, but again we managed to have a clean sheet. It was well deserved with a strong goalkeeper and guys who were really committed to defend. We wanted it badly.”
It was a disappointing night for Madrid. Eden Hazard struggled on his return to Stamford Bridge and Zinedine Zidane, who dodged questions over his future, had no complaints about his side’s defeat.
“We tried and Chelsea were the better side today,” Madrid’s manager said. “I have to congratulate my players for what we’ve done in the Champions League this season because it hasn’t been easy.” — Guardian.