Chelsea coach Tuchel wary of Porto threat: Ask Juventus!

By Sports Desk March 19, 2021

Thomas Tuchel pointed to Porto's defeat of Juventus as evidence Chelsea cannot get carried away following their Champions League draw.

The Blues, who knocked out Atletico Madrid this week, will face Porto in the quarter-finals of the competition in a seemingly kind draw.

Chelsea have won five of their eight prior meetings with Porto, including all four at Stamford Bridge, their best 100 per cent home win rate against any opponent in European competition.

But given the Portuguese side eliminated Cristiano Ronaldo and Juve in the last 16, head coach Tuchel is not taking Chelsea's progress for granted.

"Clearly, many people will maybe now make us the favourites against Porto," he told a news conference. "That will not help us.

"You can ask in Turin about the opinion on this, if it helps you to be favourites. It does not help you.

"But we are self-confident. Being self-confident is strongly connected with our performances. We are confident that we face a strong opponent that we face with all the respect.

"Now we are in the quarter-final, we think about how to win it. The only thing we focus on is to reach the semi-finals. We are self-confident enough that we see our chances."

Tuchel was speaking ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie against Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge, another favourable last-eight fixture.

Chelsea have come out on top in four of the teams' five previous clashes in the competition, while they are on a four-match winning run at home in the FA Cup.

Tuchel is similarly wary for this match, though, even if he acknowledges the prospect of a potential double with the Champions League will now be recognised.

Asked about that possibility, he replied: "It's a bit like if you asked me on my first day if we can be unbeaten after 13 games and do 11 clean sheets. I don't know. Maybe yes, maybe no.

"I can only tell you: is it possible to win against Sheffield on Sunday? Yes, it is possible. Is it easy? No. If you want to win, if you want to be in Wembley, you need to win this game. There is no other approach.

"Is it possible to win the FA Cup? Yes, for sure. Is it possible to win the Champions League when you arrive in the quarter-final? Yes, for all eight teams, it's possible.

"And from there on, admit it and put it aside, because you just lose focus. The focus is performance, intensity, attitude, mentality against Sheffield, and nothing else.

"Then first leg against Porto, then second leg, and be ready every minute of the game because this is football. Everything can happen.

"I'm pretty sure, 100 per cent sure, Sheffield will arrive to beat us, and Porto will arrive to beat us. These are the challenges. We will see where the limit is."

Related items

  • 'One of the greatest moments of my life' – Lampard 'overwhelmed' after Everton secure safety with dramatic comeback win 'One of the greatest moments of my life' – Lampard 'overwhelmed' after Everton secure safety with dramatic comeback win

    Frank Lampard hailed Everton's dramatic 3-2 win against Crystal Palace as "one of the greatest moments of my footballing life" after battling back from two goals down to clinch Premier League safety.

    Everton entered Thursday's contest at Goodison Park knowing that victory would guarantee them a 69th consecutive campaign of English top-flight football – a record only Arsenal (97 from next season) can better – but trailed to goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew before half-time.

    However, for the first time in their Premier League history, at what was the 75th attempt, the Toffees recovered from a two-goal deficit at the midway point of a game to collect all three points thanks to goals from Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

    Lampard's side can no longer be caught by Leeds United and Burnley in the final relegation spot with one fixture – away at top-four chasing Arsenal on Sunday – remaining.

    And while Chelsea great Lampard may have been more accustomed to winning major trophies across his playing days, the Everton boss ranks the victory over Palace as a career highlight.

    "It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career," he told BBC Sport. "I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach. 

    "But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different. You need to dig in. You lose games, you fight to do something and then you lose another game. People think you should fly up the table and it is never that way. 

    "Coming in here three and a half months ago with my amazing staff, positive people who work so hard, and trying to affect things and getting a reaction from the players, from the fans and feeling unity when it looked split. This club is special and I am proud to be manager of Everton on this night."

    Everton have now gained 15 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – only Liverpool (17) have recovered more – with 38 per cent of their points in 2021-22 coming in games in which they have fallen behind.

    Lampard, who took over from Rafael Benitez at the end of January, celebrated the latest comeback triumph wildly with Everton fans, his backroom staff members and the club board.

    "I thought I might cry at full-time; I thought I might jump out of my body," he said. "Nobody can question the celebrations at the end. It is easy to say 'but you haven't won anything'. You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league. 

    "See us 2-0 down at half-time, playing poorly, ridiculous second goal and then see the character they showed. See the fans on the pitch in good heart and spirit. They have pulled us over the line, they have been more than a 12th man. But the players also deserve huge credit. An amazing night."

    He added: "I'm overwhelmed and I've got so much thanks for people because there's a lot of people who have worked so hard for that, to get over the line today. Namely the players, the fans, the board, my staff. Huge night for Everton and now we want to take that forward."

    Dele Alli, who has struggled since arriving from Tottenham in the January window, played a huge part in the turnaround after being introduced at the interval.

    "Dele was brilliant when he came on. He changed the game individually," Lampard said. "We had already changed the system but it was to give a little bit of information. 

    "It was nothing to do with a system change to change the game, it was always going to be the players, their character and desire to engage the crowd and make something happen.

    "I can't take too much credit. I didn't come up with some new magical tactics. We went direct, but no problem in this position. But we relied on the players."

  • Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Alonso hits leveller as Blues and Foxes share the spoils Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Alonso hits leveller as Blues and Foxes share the spoils

    Chelsea all but secured a third-place Premier League finish with a 1-1 draw against Leicester City as Marcos Alonso coolly cancelled out James Maddison's excellent opener.

    Alonso volleyed home late in the first half after Maddison found the back of the net from 20 yards, but the Blues spurned several chances to find a winner.

    Although Chelsea failed to respond to Saturday's FA Cup final loss with a victory, the Blues' significant goal difference advantage over Tottenham means they all but guaranteed a third-place finish with the draw.

    Thomas Tuchel's men will also be grateful for having taken another step towards the end of a challenging season as the club hopes for a resolution to the protracted takeover saga involving the Todd Boehly-led consortium.

    The visitors needed just seven minutes to take the lead, with Maddison firing an excellent long-range strike beyond Edouard Mendy after latching onto a loose ball outside the area.

    But that proved to be the Foxes' only shot of the first half as Chelsea began to dominate possession, with Kasper Schmeichel forced to tip Trevoh Chalobah's fierce 25-yard effort over the crossbar 10 minutes in.

    Thiago Silva headed over from Reece James' corner after half an hour, but the Blues levelled just five minutes later when Alonso fired home at the near post after racing onto James' lofted pass.

    Romelu Lukaku nodded Hakim Ziyech's left-wing delivery wide as Chelsea continued to dominate, but Christian Pulisic was guilty of the Blues' worst miss with the goal gaping just after the hour.

    Chalobah then headed straight at Schmeichel as the Chelsea pressure continued, but Brendan Rodgers' men clung on to deny Chelsea a rare home win at the end of a difficult campaign.

    What does it mean? Chelsea close in on third, but home comforts still lacking

    With a three-point advantage over Tottenham and a goal difference 18 better than that of Antonio Conte's men, Chelsea are virtually assured of their first top-three Premier League finish since the 2018-19 campaign.

    However, Chelsea have won on just one of their last five outings at Stamford Bridge, limping over the line as they search for an end to the off-pitch uncertainty around the club.

    Creative James leads the way

    Although Alonso applied a fine volleyed finish to score Chelsea's equaliser, he was teed up by a sumptuous chipped ball from James, who has now recorded eight Premier League assists this season.

    That is the most a Chelsea player aged 22 or under has managed in a single league campaign since Eden Hazard in 2012-13 (11), while only Mason Mount (10) has more for the Blues this term.

    Maddison strikes from range again

    Despite Leicester enduring an underwhelming season, Maddison has enjoyed his best goalscoring campaign for the Foxes, netting his 11th league goal of the season to open the scoring.

    Since his Premier League debut in August 2018, meanwhile, the midfielder has scored 14 goals from outside the area in the competition – only James Ward-Prowse (15) has scored more in that time. 

    What's next? 

    Chelsea finish their Premier League season at home to Watford on Sunday, while Leicester host Southampton on the same day.

  • Vlahovic pledges to 'become a champion' at Juventus Vlahovic pledges to 'become a champion' at Juventus

    Dusan Vlahovic pledged to improve on his first half-season with Juventus and "become a champion" as the Bianconeri prepare to end their Serie A campaign against his former club Fiorentina.

    Vlahovic joined Massimiliano Allegri's side in a €70million move in January after scoring 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances for Vincenzo Italiano's men this season, adding a further seven in 14 league appearances for the Old Lady since arriving in Turin.

    The striker became the joint-highest scoring Serbian player in Serie A history in Monday's 2-2 draw with Lazio (51 – level with Dejan Stankovic), while one more league goal would make him just the second player aged under 23 years old to hit 25 in a Serie A season in 60 years – the other being Ronaldo for Inter in 1997-98.

    However, Vlahovic has struggled to match his Fiorentina form during Juventus' frustrating end to the campaign, averaging a league goal every 151.86 minutes for Juve as opposed to every 109.47 minutes for his former club.

    Juventus are guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A for a second consecutive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns, and lost the Coppa Italia final to rivals Inter this month.

    But Vlahovic remains happy with his decision to move to Turin and sees room for improvement moving forward.

    Speaking at the Turin book fair, Vlahovic was asked about former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli labelling him a "true champion" recently, replying: "I would like to say, speaking of myself as a champion... I don't like it. There is a long way to go, to work. I will give my all and I hope I will become a champion.

    "I like Juve's DNA, this desire to fight and not give up, to go over the limit, until the end. 

    "I am a bit like that too. I like working, above all because when I stop playing, even if it's early, I don't want to have regrets. I want to give everything, I don't want to have regrets. 

    "This is my job, I am privileged and I don't see why it should be different. You can always do better. Even when you have done something extraordinary, you must be aware and satisfied, without exaggerating."

    Juventus can end this Serie A campaign with a maximum of 73 points, guaranteeing their worst such return since the 2010-11 campaign (58 points, under Luigi Delneri).

    The Bianconeri's hopes of a successful campaign suffered a huge blow when Italy's Euro 2020 star Federico Chiesa suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

    Vlahovic played with Chiesa at Fiorentina and cannot wait to see the winger return to full fitness next term as he looks to rekindle their on-pitch relationship.

    "He saw me grow up as a kid," he said of Chiesa. "We shared three years at Fiorentina, luckily we're together again. 

    "He got injured when I arrived, I hope he'll be back as soon as possible. We hope to find our understanding on the pitch, which has remained from Florence. 

    "I can't wait to play with him, to take the field and fight with him and win together."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.