Chelsea aim to gain from time spent in Spain as Tuchel looks to topple Guardiola

By Sports Desk April 16, 2021

Thomas Tuchel hopes Chelsea will benefit from a rare opportunity to bond in Seville after the squad stayed overnight following their Champions League clash with Porto.

Chelsea lost the second leg of the quarter-final tie following a stoppage-time winner for their Portuguese opponents on Tuesday, though still progressed 2-1 on aggregate.

Rather than fly home immediately after the game in the Spanish city – both fixtures were staged there due to the ongoing travel restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic – Tuchel and his Chelsea players had the chance to get together and relax.

Chelsea head coach Tuchel allowed his Premier League players to have a glass of wine or a beer as they discussed matters away from football before returning to England the next day, a move he hopes has allowed the group to grow even closer as they prepare for a busy run-in to the season.

Chelsea are still fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League, but the immediate focus is on an FA Cup semi-final showdown against Manchester City, with the two heavyweight rivals clashing at Wembley on Saturday.

"We are aware that it is necessary to recover mentally," Tuchel told the media on the eve of the City game. 

"For example, we decided to stay overnight in Seville because we knew the hotel. It was very nice, in a nice setting - we had the chance to sit outside because the weather was very warm.

"It was a calming circumstance to enjoy each other's company. We had a good sleep and we had a chance to stay together after the match because we created a bubble there.

"It was a good chance because the players have not been able to go out, go to restaurants. For almost a year now, we cannot share a dressing room. So we created this just to feel some time together, have talks outside of tactics and line-ups to just bond, let the players bond, enjoy an evening after a game.

"They could have a glass of wine or sip of beer if they want. It was important to have this environment and organise it like this. It was part of the mental recovery.

"We are aware that we have many meetings after games and training sessions. We want to have sessions where there isn't too much explanation or talking, just to find exercises on the pitch that bring a lot of fun and joy and sweat out the tension.

"Things like this are very important to help the seriousness of how we prepare and play in games."

Tuchel will hope the time spent in Spain has refreshed Chelsea prior to taking on the runaway league leaders; City have won six of the past nine meetings in all competitions, including a 3-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge earlier in this campaign.

Frank Lampard was in charge for that game and while Tuchel has lost just twice since taking charge, he has yet to beat Pep Guardiola in his managerial career. All of their previous five head-to-head battles came while both were working in the Bundesliga.

Related items

  • Tite: Coutinho can help Brazil replace injured Neymar Tite: Coutinho can help Brazil replace injured Neymar

    Brazil head coach Tite is bullish that Philippe Coutinho can help replace the injured Neymar in his first appearance in national colours for more than 12 months.

    Coutinho, who earlier this month joined Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona, is set to line up for Selecao in place of the suspended Lucas Paqueta in Thursday's World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador.

    The 29-year-old has not played for Brazil since October 2020 having undergone knee surgery in January 2021.

    Coutinho's return coincides with the absence of Neymar who is out for the upcoming qualifiers with an ankle injury.

    "People always want Neymar, but at times things don't happen the way you want," Tite told reporters.

    "We feel sorry that Neymar can't be here, but we have other options. I'm talking about Coutinho. He is a player that can play in that role and I believe in his quality.

    "Coutinho is an important player and he's been recovering to his best level."

    He added: "From a social and human standpoint, I know how much time he has invested and the challenges he has faced to recover from injury."

    Ex-Liverpool forward Coutinho has started life at Villa brightly, netting the equalizing goal in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on debut.

    Brazil have already clinched their spot at Qatar 2022, but Tite wanted to push his players in the qualifiers against Ecuador and also Paraguay on Tuesday.

    "I thought the emotions and feelings would be lighter but no, we have the same emotions and anxieties," Tite said.

    "I want to test players in the upcoming qualifiers. I still have the same pressure."

    Tite confirmed that he will field Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior against Ecuador along with Raphinha and Matheus Cunha.

  • Sensational Powell century seals win for West Indies against England Sensational Powell century seals win for West Indies against England

    A ruthless century from Rovman Powell gave the West Indies the perfect base to secure a 20-run win in the third T20I against England at the Kensington Oval in Barbados to go 2-1 up in the five-match series.

    Powell became only the third West Indian to score a T20I century after Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle as he hit an incredible 107 from 53 balls, including 10 sixes. His partnership of 122 with Nicholas Pooran (70) set the hosts on their way to a daunting total of 224-5 from their 20 overs, though England and in particular Tom Banton (73 from 39 balls) and debutant Phil Salt (57 from 24 balls) put up a spirited chase.

    Brandon King (10) fell to George Garton - also making his first appearance - in the second over as the Sussex bowler found the top of off stump, before Shai Hope went for just four after clipping a Liam Livingstone delivery against his own leg pad, which sent the ball into the air for a simple catch for wicketkeeper Banton.

    Pooran and Powell then set about hitting England's attack all over the park, before the partnership was finally broken in the 17th over when Pooran hit Adil Rashid straight to the waiting Livingstone. Powell reached his century before also hitting a shot to Livingstone, this time off the final ball of Reece Topley's spell.

    Jason Roy (19) tried to get England's chase going with a couple of big sixes but soon mishit a Romario Shepherd ball to the waiting hands of Jason Holder, though things looked promising for the tourists as they reached 61-1 at the end of the powerplay, seven runs ahead of the West Indies at the same stage.

    Banton and James Vince kept the required rate within reach early on until the latter fell at the end of the eighth over as he hit Akeal Hosein to Kieron Pollard for 16. Stand-in captain Moeen Ali fell for a second-ball duck, dangerman Livingstone could only manage 11, and after Banton was caught by Holder off the bowling of Pollard, Salt and another debutant Harry Brook (10) tried to get the innings back on track before Brook was sent packing by Holder.

    Salt's knock before he was bowled by Shepherd in the final over provided a hint of what he can bring to this England team in future, but on this night it was not a victory as the West Indies closed their opponent's innings at 204-9 to edge ahead again in the series.

    Ka-Powell

    Powell only averages 22.00 from his 26 T20I innings, but did a good impression of the legendary Gayle here as he hit England all over the Kensington Oval.

    As well as reaching comfortably his highest score in T20Is, he also did so with a strike rate of 201.88, significantly above his average of 130.81.

    England's bowling attack left battered and bruised

    Rashid (25-1) and Topley (30-1) might consider themselves to have performed pretty well considering what happened their their team-mates at the hands of Pooran and Powell in particular.

    Garton took an early wicket on debut but ended with figures of 57-1, while Livingstone came away with 42-1 from just three overs, and Tymal Mills took 52-1 from his four. Ali also bowled a single over for 14 runs and no wicket.

  • Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything' Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything'

    Erling Haaland is widely recognised as one of the best strikers in the world, but he still believes he can "improve on everything" about his game.

    The Borussia Dortmund man has been strongly linked with a move to the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, with reports suggesting he has a release clause of €75million that becomes active at the end of the season.

    Speaking to Sky Sports, Haaland may have further tempted those teams and any others who have the money to do a deal by suggesting he is far from the finished article.

    "I think I can improve on everything," he said. "If you say I am good at finishing, I can improve my finishing a lot. I can become faster, so I can improve that. I can become stronger, so I can improve that.

    "But if I should improve one thing, it would be to not get injured, because if I am not injured, I will play a lot more games and I will deliver even better. If you were to ask what my goals are for 2022, it is to not be injured, and the goals for the rest of my career are to not be injured. That's the main thing."

    Haaland has scored 80 goals in 79 games in all competitions since moving to Signal Iduna Park from Salzburg just over two years ago.

    Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more in that time, having played in 11 more games than Haaland.

    The 21-year-old was named as part of the FIFPro World 11 at The Best FIFA Football Awards, where Lewandowski took home the top men's prize ahead of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Haaland was asked who his top three would have been.

    "I think you would have to say Lewandowski number one," he said, "Then you have, for me, [Karim] Benzema has also been amazing, but Messi has also been outstanding – so Benzema and Messi in shared second and third place."

    The Norway forward was also asked about his recent comments that Dortmund were forcing him to make a decision on his future as soon as possible.

    Haaland said in a post-match interview following last week's 5-1 win against Freiburg that the club "press me to make a decision now about my future", though Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke denied this.

    "I don't really want to say too much about it, but I felt it was time for me to say something," Haaland told Sky. "A lot of others were speaking – so that was it. Now, I don't want to say too much. I said what I said, and now we move on."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.