Thomas Tuchel insists Chelsea will not sit back on their away-goal advantage against Real Madrid as it is in the club’s DNA to try to win every match.
Christian Pulisic scored a crucial goal for Chelsea in last week’s Champions League semi-final first leg before Karim Benzema levelled up the tie at 1-1 through Madrid’s only shot on target.
The onus is on Madrid to score an away goal of their own in Wednesday’s return match at Stamford Bridge, but Tuchel does not intend to set his side out to protect their narrow lead.
“For me, the challenge is to forget the result in two-legged games and go on and start anew at 0-0,” he said at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference.
“We will prepare to win the match, nothing else. I don’t know any other way to prepare other than to encourage my team to go out and try to win it.
“If we are at our best then it’s a no-brainer that we go for the win. We want to win games, this club is about winning.
“This game and competition is about winning. We are in the semi-final second leg.
“The first result is not as important as everybody thinks. There is zero importance for me in the preparation of this match.
“It’s not changed anything about how we’ve prepared, zero influence. We will encourage them, we will demand from them and we will be strong tomorrow as a group.”
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 30, 2021
Tuchel was left frustrated by Chelsea’s finishing in the first leg, with Timo Werner guilty of missing good opportunities either side of Pulisic and Benzema’s goals.
Werner has scored from three of his 20 shots in this season’s Champions League, giving the Germany international a shot conversion rate of 15.0 per cent.
For comparison, Madrid striker Benzema – who will overtake Raul as the competition’s outright fourth top goalscorer if he nets on Wednesday – has scored from six of his 31 shots (19.4 per cent)
But while Tuchel accepts his attacking players have to be more clinical, he is happy to persist with his current set-up.
“I believe that Timo absolutely wants to score more, but we have to understand sometimes strikers miss chances. This is part of the game,” he said.
“We have another training session today and it is always about the last impression from the players.
“Everybody needs to step up to take responsibility for scoring. This will come maybe with more time and some self-confidence.
“I am pretty relaxed about it and trust my players, no matter who starts tomorrow.”
Madrid were without captain Sergio Ramos last week but the experienced defender has been included as part of their squad for Wednesday’s game.
Los Blancos have won three and drawn one of the four Champions League games Ramos has started this season, compared to three wins, two draws and two losses in the seven games he has missed.
Tuchel is expecting Ramos to return to the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge, which could also possibly mean a change in formation for the visitors.
“Does Ramos play or not? This is a tough question because I don’t know if he’s fit or not. We’ll see after training and when they give the line-up,” the German coach said.
“Does it change for Real Madrid? Yes, it changes them a lot. He’s the captain of the most successful team in Europe in recent years.
“It changes a lot but we cannot lose our heads about this decision. I think that he will start, we will prepare for that and we have to make sure he can’t do it alone.”
“I am not sure if they will play 5-3-2 again, maybe they will go 4-3-3. From this decision, things change.
“I believe that it is not about formation, what Real Madrid play, it is about how we play. Are we brave enough? Are we courageous enough?”
All the action from Saturday’s 2-0 win against Fulham!pic.twitter.com/0O9vwxD5HY
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 4, 2021
Chelsea have progressed from five of their past seven knockout ties in the Champions League when avoiding defeat away from home in the first leg.
However, one of those two eliminations came in their last semi-final appearance in the competition, versus Atletico Madrid in 2013-14 when losing the second leg 3-1.
The Blues’ only previous triumph in the competition was in 2011-12 and Tuchel, a beaten finalist with Paris Saint-Germain last season, knows the importance of lifting the trophy.
“I never felt like this competition is our holy grail since I arrived but I felt that this club is about winning,” he said.
“It does something to you, you feel it. We are very competitive, very serious about any game, this is what I like.
“I never felt we had a holy grail to reach the final or winning the Champions League is the only target. I have a strong feeling that every win counts, the club demands it.”
Tuchel confirmed midfielder Mateo Kovacic will again miss out for Chelsea through injury, but Antonio Rudiger is fit to play with the aid of a protective mask.
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