For Chelsea, it will be a first Champions League final since 2012, after seeing off Real Madrid. Thomas Tuchel and his Blues are heading for a second final in ten years, and third overall. It was a second leg, on the night, that looked even less comfortable than the game played out. The only real threat Chelsea faced, after halftime, was the prospect of their missed chances coming to haunt them.
Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea Have a Bright Future
Thomas Tuchel and a Well-Coached Chelsea
In fact, the only sense of worry – if any – from this tie with Real Madrid is that it should have been over sooner. Right from the first half of the first leg, when Thomas Tuchel watched his side dominate at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium. Chelsea shouldn’t have given Real a prayer going into the return leg, let alone in its final ten minutes.
Yet, that discussion is testament to Chelsea’s progress under Thomas Tuchel. That they could play the 13-time European champions off the park for 180 minutes and yet it can feel unsatisfactory. It’s a huge credit to Thomas Tuchel, who only arrived less than five months ago, back when Chelsea seemed to lack direction and looked top heavy as Frank Lampard was ushered out the door.
But since the German’s arrival, things have been different. In 25 games under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have kept 18 clean sheets. They’ve conceded ten times, and half of those came in that bizarre defeat at home to West Brom, the only game in which they’ve conceded more than once. They’ve kept clean sheets against Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Atletico Madrid.
Does Thomas Tuchel Manage the Best-Coached Team in Europe?
This Champions League midweek was one that probably re-affirmed something everyone seems to know. That Manchester City are the best side in Europe. The soon-to-be Premier League champions produced a composed and mature performance to see off Paris St. Germain in the semi-final second leg, and will meet Chelsea in Istanbul.
But if Pep Guardiola is in charge of the best team in Europe, Thomas Tuchel is probably leading best-coached team on the continent. Especially from a defensive point of view, as we’ve seen Chelsea evolve and adapt to different opponents.
Their approach play at the back when they played Real was different to the one against Fulham last weekend. They’ve also played different styles when they’ve faced the likes of Liverpool. Yet, all have been as effective. This is a team evolving, adapting, and developing. The constant and consistent fine-tuning from Tuchel is there. As each game progresses, we see this Thomas Tuchel side edging closer to being the finished article.
Dress Rehearsal With Manchester City to Come
Chelsea face Manchester City in the Champions League final at the end of May. But before then, they meet at the Etihad this weekend, in a game where City can clinch the title. Both sides have already met this season under their current managers, as Thomas Tuchel led Chelsea to an FA Cup semi-final win over City last month.
Chelsea have shown they can more than hold their own against the best team in Europe right now. And this weekend meeting might not just be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final. It could be a pre-cursor of things to come in the future.
For all of Chelsea’s organisation, they’re still quite short up front, in terms of personnel and a clear system. That’s the only other area left for Thomas Tuchel to fix. Do that, and this side could be the ones going head-to-head with Manchester City for titles in the future.
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