Tuchel: Chelsea culture key to success in uncertain circumstances

By Sports Desk March 16, 2022

Chelsea's culture was pivotal to them overcoming tough circumstances to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, according to Thomas Tuchel. 

There were question marks over the Blues' ability to travel to Lille for the second leg of their Champions League games after sanctions were imposed on their owner Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom government. 

Upon arrival in France, there were concerns the game may not have been able to go ahead after the European Union hit Abramovich with further sanctions. 

However, Chelsea - who are expected to be sold to new owners before the end of the season - were able to take on Lille and fought back after falling behind to Burak Yilmaz's first-half penalty. 

Goals from Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta sealed a 4-1 aggregate win over the Ligue 1 champions, with Tuchel claiming a record-breaking 32nd victory after 50 Champions League games as a coach. 

"The quarter-finals is a big step. We showed resilience and mentality to overcome difficulties. We did what was necessary. We dug in and got a deserved win. It's difficult here," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Chelsea has this kind of culture within the club where we work every day. What I found from day one was a football first mentality. Everybody pushes the first team every three days, everybody goes to the limit and is focused on football. 

"We've been trying to implement an atmosphere. This culture is already installed and this helps us now to focus with difficult and distracting times because it's always there. 

"We encourage the players. It feels so good we can still produce results and I'm proud." 

Chelsea struggled to create chances until Pulisic's goal on the stroke of half-time, while Xeka hit the post for Lille before Azpilicueta's goal. 

Tuchel said: "We weren't so good in the first half. The pitch was horrible and it made things complicated. It was a new pitch not ready to play on. The tactics weren't right in the first 20 minutes, I take responsibility. Then it was more fluid. 

"It was very important to calm everyone down. We were lucky with the post. 

"We hope and expect to carry on. We want to compete. It took a lot of sacrifice, we fought hard to be in the last eight. We're excited for the draw. We have a game in Middlesbrough three days later." 

Chelsea have now won four straight knockout games in the Champions League for just the second time. The last time they achieved that feat was in 2011-12, when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties in the final. 

Related items

  • Gunn acknowledges Scotland's Germany failure but aims for Euro 2024 response Gunn acknowledges Scotland's Germany failure but aims for Euro 2024 response

    Angus Gunn acknowledged Scotland let everyone associated with them down after Germany's 5-1 rout at Euro 2024 – but insists Group A progression is not off the cards.

    Steve Clarke's team were humiliated on Friday in the tournament opener as Scotland suffered their second-heaviest defeat ever at a major tournament, after their 7-0 loss to Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup.

    Antonio Rudiger's late own goal was the only thing the thousands of travelling Scots could celebrate, leading Gunn to apologise to all involved with the Tartan Army.

    "We let ourselves down, our families down and obviously the fans, which is probably the most difficult to take," Gunn said in an interview published on Scotland's X account on Monday.

    "It's down to us to bounce back now, and the good thing is that we've two more games to put it right, and we can still reach our target."

    Clarke declared four points was the target before the European Championship started as Scotland aimed for their first-ever progression to the knockout stages of a major tournament.

    Scotland will need to get results against Switzerland on Wednesday, and Hungary in their final group game four days later, if they are to hit Clarke's ambitions.

    It appears a tough ask, too, as Scotland have won just six of their 33 matches at major tournaments (World Cup/Euros), a win rate of 18 per cent.

    Among European nations with 25+ matches played at such tournaments, only Bulgaria (13 per cent – 4 from 32) have a poorer win ratio.

    Gunn remains confident of an unlikely escape from Group A, however.

    "We know what we have to do in terms of trying to get out of the group," the Scotland goalkeeper added.

    "Obviously they [Switzerland] got a very positive result in their first game as well, so it's going to be difficult, but from our point of view, it's pretty straightforward."

    Scotland managed to make it through a qualifying group for this tournament that included Spain and Erling Haaland's Norway.

    Gunn wanted to remind supporters of his team's progression as negativity swirls around their opening-game performance.

    "You look back at how far we've come, how well we've done to qualify, and you have to take belief from that," Gunn continued. 

    "We've got to target two wins that can get us through the group, and if we can do that, we've reached our target."

  • Tedesco refuses to point finger as Lukaku struggles in Belgium's shock Euro 2024 defeat Tedesco refuses to point finger as Lukaku struggles in Belgium's shock Euro 2024 defeat

    Domenico Tedesco refused to place the blame on any individual performance as Belgium slumped to Euro 2024 defeat against Slovakia, with Romelu Lukaku missing a host of chances.

    Ivan Schranz's seventh-minute finish in Frankfurt proved the difference on Monday as Slovakia stunned the world's third-best side in their tournament opener.

    Belgium forward Lukaku produced a profligate showing, spurning a pair of glorious first-half chances before seeing two goals disallowed by the VAR as Tedesco's side chased a late equaliser.

    Lukaku accumulated an expected goals (xG) tally of 0.82 throughout the Group E meeting, with that total far greater than the entire Slovakia team combined (0.59).

    Yet Tedesco, who suffered a first defeat in 15 games since replacing Roberto Martinez as Belgium boss, did not pinpoint specific players when discussing Belgium's downfall.

    "For me, it hurts a lot," Tedesco said. "I don't want to point the finger at people. You can be sure we will speak about many things but we will do it internally and not through the media.

    "I knew we would lose one day but unfortunately it was today. Honestly, there is not much I can say to the team to improve.

    "We created many chances, big chances. Of course, if we take one, then it makes the game easier."

    When pressed on Lukaku's form in front of goal, Tedesco defended the former Chelsea and Manchester United striker.

    "Romelu has been playing for Belgium for a long time," the Red Devils' head coach said. 

    "He knows how to score goals, I don't need to tell him that. He is a top-class player with great character."

    Lukaku saw his first effort ruled out for an offside after Amadou Onana's headed knockdown before his late finish was again overturned as Lois Openda was deemed to have handled in the build-up.

    "It's tough to speak," Tedesco continued. "If we had won I could tell you more about my opinion.

    "But we lost and I want to be seen as a fair manager so I don't say anything. We have to trust these guys. I trust the VAR. If they decide it's handball, we have to accept it."

    Belgium's defeat leaves Group E wide open after Romania hammered Ukraine 3-0 on the same day, with Tedesco's side needing a response against Edward Iordanescu's team on Saturday.

    Another loss would push Belgium further towards an unlikely group-stage exit, though Tedesco wants to use the Slovakia disappointment as motivation.

    "Naturally everyone is disappointed but you can harness that," he said. "You can make use of it. I always said our group would be very tricky and shouldn't assume that we will go through."

    Belgium captain Kevin De Bruyne was also frustrated as his side suffered their first group-stage defeat at the European Championship since losing 2-0 to Italy in 2016.

    The Manchester City star said: "It is a pity. The first 20 minutes we were really good and we made such a mistake for which we were punished.

    "In the second half it was better, we upped the tempo. We deserved to win but did not score and that is the way it is. Apart from a few other chances we didn't give much away.

    "We adjusted some things at half-time and then played well. We pushed, we created chances. We certainly deserved to at least a draw because we didn't play badly."

  • Keane backs Foden to deliver after criticism from England's Euro 2024 opener Keane backs Foden to deliver after criticism from England's Euro 2024 opener

    England must stick with Phil Foden despite an "off night" against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener, according to Manchester United great Roy Keane.

    Foden created just one chance in Sunday's 1-0 victory as the Manchester City star moved to the left flank, making way to accommodate an attack of Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane.

    The 24-year-old still managed 19 passes in the final third, only bettered by match-winning team-mate Jude Bellingham (24), but failed to register a single shot in an unusually quiet outing.

    Former United midfielder Keane has no doubts over Foden's ability, however, and lamented critics calling for his dropping from Gareth Southgate's starting XI.

    "This idea that you should start taking him out of the team, Phil Foden is an amazing, fantastic player who has had a great season," Keane said on ITV on Monday.

    "OK, he was quiet last night but he is entitled to an off night. Don't be writing this kid off. He has got so much talent. You stick with him.

    "You can talk about tactics and systems until the cows come home. Foden and these quality players will produce. He had a quiet night. Relax, everyone. He will be fine."

    Bellingham stole the show as his 13th-minute header from Saka's deflected right-wing cross proved the difference.

    Real Madrid's Champions League-winning midfielder also became the first player to score for the Three Lions at both the World Cup and European Championship while playing his club football outside of England.

    Kane was another to be kept quiet by Serbia, though the England captain had a late header expertly pushed away by Predrag Rajkovic.

    Keane insists Southgate's plethora of talent will always deliver in some form, though, whether it comes from Kane, Bellingham, Foden or any other player.

    "They have got to stay calm with it all," Keane added. "Because they have three or four world-class players, when Kane or Foden are having a bit of an off-night, players like Bellingham will step up.

    "It might be Foden or Kane in the next game. That is the beauty of having four or five world-class players."

    England head to Frankfurt on Thursday to face Denmark, aiming to extend their embryonic lead at the top of Group C before their final meeting with Slovenia.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.