Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel picks out two brilliant players after Champions League triumph
Chelsea: Tuchel opens up on 'edge' ahead of UCL final
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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel believes Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger were vital in his side’s 1-0 Champions League final win over Manchester City on Saturday night. The Blues won in Porto courtesy of Kai Havertz’s first half strike. And it means they’ve now won Europe’s top club competition twice in their history, one short of fellow English side Manchester United.
Chelsea went into the match against City as underdogs given Pep Guardiola’s side’s status as Premier League champions.
But Tuchel’s team triumphed 1-0 on the night, with Havertz keeping his cool to score the only goal of the game.
It was a massive night for Chelsea and for Tuchel in particular, who was able to banish the demons of last season where his Paris Saint-Germain side lost to Bayern Munich in the final.
And, speaking after the game, the German picked out defenders Azpilicueta and Rudiger for praise.
“City chose a very offensive and very technical line-up. It was very hard to recover the balls,” he told the club’s official website.
“It was very important that we step out with Azpi and Toni constantly out of the back five to support our midfield, and it was important to stay in a block on the front five.
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“We were absolutely sure that we needed to play with a strong bond and with a genuine belief, and this is what we did.
“Minute after minute we could grab some ball possession we could win more and more second balls and initiate some dangerous counter attacks which gave us confidence, and from then on it was a tough match until the end.”
Tuchel also feels his Chelsea group are ‘strong’, insisting they packed together to stop City bagging an equaliser.
“We have a strong group who can really defend and defending is a huge part of football,” he said.
“They have a huge energy together and they can deliver under pressure. So this sets the level for us and once the celebrations are over and we have all digested this experience, it’s the moment to grow, to evolve, and to use it to become better.
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“A lot of young players had this huge success and now it’s a big challenge to stay hungry and to go for the next one.”
The Chelsea boss also expressed his gratitude at being in a Champions League final for a second time, saying: “I was so grateful to arrive here [in the final] a second time.
“It felt different. I told everybody that before. Somehow we could feel it every day coming closer but we were comfortable.
“We needed a top-level performance and we needed a strong bond just to have a chance to win this match.
“This is what we did and I am very happy to share this moment with this team and with all the staff, with all the guys who support on an everyday basis at Cobham. The team fights for them.
“The effort was huge.
“We overcome some difficult moments and some very dangerous moments with fantastic attitude to defending.
“We had to make an early change with Andreas Christensen coming on for Thiago Silva which did not make the things easier but we were brave. Even in moments where it was hard to escape the pressure we kept the formation and we were constantly active.”
Meanwhile, former Tottenham star Jamie O’Hara thinks Guardiola’s team selection stopped City from winning the trophy they covet the most.
“I couldn’t believe what I was watching,” he said.
“It’s one of the worst performances I’ve seen from Manchester City in a long time. Bottle jobs. And an absolute disaster of a team selection from Pep Guardiola.
“I cannot believe he got it so wrong in such a big moment.
“Chelsea were brilliant, they were solid, they were organised. They were all over Man City in the first-half. They had their number.
“Guardiola got it so wrong with the team selection with no holding midfielder. If Timo Werner could shoot, it would have been 3-0 at half-time. They were all over them.
“Man City didn’t really create one clear-cut chance apart from the one where Foden was in and [Antonio] Rudiger made a brilliant tackle.
“Reece James had Sterling in his pocket. I cannot believe Sterling even started the game with the form he’s been in.
“I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was a disgrace from Pep Guardiola.”
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