Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel calls on his stars to adapt to the increasing levels of expectation on them but claims holders are NOT favourites to win the Champions League ahead of Juventus clash
- Chelsea revelled in the role of underdogs in the Champions League last season
- Thomas Tuchel’s side won the trophy after beating Manchester City in the final
- There is a lot more pressure on Chelsea in the Champions League this campaign
- Chelsea won’t go to Italian giants Juventus on Wednesday as the underdogs
As if the task of winning in Turin on Wednesday night wasn’t daunting enough, Chelsea must do it without N’Golo Kante.
The Blues were taken by surprise when their midfielder tested positive for Covid. With Mason Mount, Reece James and Christian Pulisic already missing through injury, this is a snapshot of football in 2021: plans in disarray at the drop of a hat.
Of course, the European champions still have the materials to come here and win. In Romelu Lukaku they have a striker fresh from winning Serie A with Inter Milan in May, scoring 24 league goals en route, though his record against Juventus — one goal in six appearances — isn’t impressive.
Thomas Tuchel has called on his players to adapt to the growing level of expectation on them
Chelsea are no longer the underdogs following their Champions League success last season
And in Jorginho, they have a footballer at the peak of his powers and one well-versed in the ways of Italian football.
‘Tactically they are really strong, they know how to defend the box,’ said Jorginho, who has 38 Italy caps. ‘They are really organised. Juventus are a big club and they’ve been there for many years. We need to try and break them by speed, energy. We respect them, but we will try.’
Yet it is not like Chelsea are heading into the lions’ den as huge underdogs. They revelled in the role as dark horses last season, but this time it’s different. The hunters have become the hunted, and head coach Thomas Tuchel has called on his players to adapt to the growing levels of expectation.
‘Maybe people will pay more attention to us now. It’s hard to be seen as underdogs when you’ve just won the title,’ said Tuchel.
‘We came from a role not as favourites last season and we got better with every match and grew in confidence. We were seen as contenders very late in the competition. That can sometimes help. Now it is easy to make us the favourites.
Tuchel says that Chelsea’s players ‘have to make themselves free’ from expectations on them
‘There’s a higher motivation to play against us. We have to accept this. It’s our fault, we have won this competition. We like the role to come a bit from the outside.
‘I don’t think we are favourites, but we’ve shown people what we are capable of. We have to make ourselves free from these expectations and (make sure) these expectations do not become our expectations.’
Juventus’ early-season form under Max Allegri should act as some encouragement for Chelsea. The Bianconeri have hardly set the world alight since the manager’s return in the summer, winning just three of their first seven games in all competitions.
Their opponents Juventus have had a tough start to the season and are 10th in Serie A
Tuchel believes Juventus’ struggles have come from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo
Tuchel believes the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United may have played a role in Juve’s early-season struggles.
‘Time will tell, but it’s not a secret that any team without Ronaldo will not be the same,’ he said, as he prepares to face Juventus for the first time in his career.
‘But they have a lot of talent, a very experienced coach, they’re a proud club who are used to winning.
‘We play Juventus at Juventus. We must respect the quality and tradition of this club.
‘We also need to regroup and with determination to bounce back from our defeat against Manchester City.’