Thomas Tuchel’s reality check for Chelsea stars can act as spark for Real Madrid tie
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Chelsea may be riding high from their 6-0 drubbing of Southampton at the weekend, but Thomas Tuchel’s stark admission last week following the first-leg defeat to Real Madrid may well still be ringing in the ears of the Blues players. The reigning European champions suffered a demoralising defeat at Stamford Bridge to put them on the brink of elimination from the Champions League.
Karim Benzema put in a one-man show for Real as the Frenchman scored a hat-trick to give the Spanish side a strong 3-1 lead heading into the second leg. It was a lacklustre display by Chelsea in comparison however with Kai Havertz’s goal the only consolation.
Such was Tuchel’s dismay at the performance from his team, he appeared to accept the tie was already over. He said: “Today, is this [tie] alive with this performance? No, not at the moment.
“We have to find ourselves again, I don’t know where we have been since the international break.”
At his pre-match press conference for the game against Southampton, Tuchel also went on to admit that he held a meeting with the players in a one-sided briefing.
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“We take the players’ view very seriously and into account but over the last two games we thought it necessary to give our point of view – but behind closed doors where everyone can take criticism,” he said. “We don’t point fingers, we don’t look for people who are guilty, we’re in this together but we needed to point out things in our game where we could have defended better. The offensive principles in our game, what we lacked doing.”
Tuchel’s harsh words appeared to have done the trick against Southampton at the weekend, but the real test comes tonight against Real. The German coach has set the challenge for his Chelsea players to put last week’s performance firmly behind them.
The reality check of Chelsea’s precarious position in the Champions League will be the ultimate test for this squad. While there is still a good chance of reaching the FA Cup final, a return to the Champions League showpiece would see the Blues join some elite company.
Only Real have won back-to-back titles in the Champions League era and the Spanish outfit will want to keep hold of that record. Now Chelsea have to go to Real’s own backyard to see whether Tuchel’s strong words will have any effect on their performance this time around.
Even if Chelsea do pull off the comeback, they will face one of Manchester City or Atletico Madrid in the semi-final. Chasing history is never supposed to be easy though and Chelsea know that all too well.
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