TT-total! No celebrations for Chelsea, even if they win FA Cup

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Thomas Tuchel has told Chelsea's players there will be no time to celebrate if they beat Leicester City in the FA Cup final… because they must immediately begin preparations for another crunch clash with the same opponents.

The Blues have the opportunity to garnish their impressive recovery under Tuchel with some silverware at Wembley on Saturday.

However, a lacklustre 1-0 loss to Arsenal in midweek leaves their top-four hopes in the balance.

They slipped behind Leicester and are now fourth in the standings, knowing Liverpool could be just a point behind them by the time they host Brendan Rodgers' side on Tuesday.

"There are no celebrations, no celebrations planned. These are special times," Tuchel told reporters.

"If we win there's nothing planned. It's a bit too close that we play on Tuesday again.

"The situation in the league does not allow us to celebrate. We have two finals coming up and want to win both of them.

"Tomorrow will have a huge physical impact and we need to be ready on Sunday to do a good recovery session and on Monday to prepare for the next games.

"If there are celebrations, we need to delay them to a little bit later."

Tuchel has a mixed record in finals, winning the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17, having lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in the domestic showpiece 12 months earlier.

He won the 2019-20 Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue, having lost – again on penalties to Rennes – in the final of the former a year earlier. However, a 1-0 defeat to Bayern in last August's Champions League final prevented a clean sweep.

"It's very hard to learn from one final to the next final, because you never know how many years or months in between. Your opponent is different, your team is maybe different," said the 47-year-old, who will lead Chelsea in the Champions League final against Manchester City later this month.

"A general rule is that the more tension, the more decisive character that a game has, the less new information you give. You have short, clear sessions.

"It's not the moment to learn new stuff and implement new tactical tricks. It's the moment to be confident and to be well aware what is our style of play, what are our strengths and encourage the players to be on their top level."

At Dortmund, Tuchel explained his attempts to lighten the mood for such occasions extended to him playing as a goalkeeper in training.

"I gave a lot of confidence to my players," he chuckled, having confirmed the far more able Kepa Arrizabalaga will be between the posts for Chelsea in the final.

"Laughter is always very, very welcome, but if you try hard to make the group smile it will not happen. It has to come naturally. If you don't feel it, don't do it

"The tension will grow once you arrive at Wembley. There will be a certain energy that maybe you cannot prepare for. Adapt to it, go for it and embrace the challenge.

"It's normal to be excited and nervous."

In terms of his own preparations when it comes to dealing with those nerves, Tuchel revealed he practices meditation.

"Just 20 minutes, breathe in, breathe out and try hard to do nothing," he added.

"Some years ago I came into this. It helped me, it was a nice experience when I was between coaching Mainz and Dortmund.

"Sometimes I'm very disciplined and do it twice and day, sometimes I am not so disciplined for weeks."

Discipline will be a watchword for Chelsea this weekend – especially immediately after full-time if they manage to secure the club's ninth FA Cup.

Related items

  • 'He is our Mo Salah' – Tuchel wants fix for Kante's fitness issues 'He is our Mo Salah' – Tuchel wants fix for Kante's fitness issues

    Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea must find a solution to N'Golo Kante's fitness struggles after the Blues came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Leicester City.

    Marcos Alonso volleyed home to cancel out James Maddison's opener in front of Todd Boehly, part of a consortium looking to take ownership of the club, with the Blues all but securing a third-place finish in the Premier League despite having won just one of their last five league games (three draws, one loss).

    Tuchel's men have now drawn 11 league games during a frustrating season, more than they have managed in a single campaign since recording 10 stalemates when finishing 10th in 2015-16.

    World Cup winner Kante played the first 72 minutes against his former club before being replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but has been linked with a move away with his Stamford Bridge contract due to expire in 2023.

    The 31-year-old has only started 20 of the Blues' 37 league games this term, featuring for a total of just 1,688 minutes in the Premier League and missing out entirely on 12 of the team's league fixtures.

    Speaking in his post-match press conference, Tuchel said the midfielder was Chelsea's "key player", stressing the need to resolve his fitness issues.

    Tuchel also likened Kante to the players such as Mohammed Salah, Kylian Mbappe and several other world stars, claiming he lifts the rest of the side when fit.

    "I think he is our key, key, key player, but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch. He plays only 40 per cent of the games, so then it is maybe a miracle that we arrive in third place," Tuchel said.

    "He is our Mo Salah, he is our [Virgil] van Dijk, he is our [Kevin] De Bruyne. He is simply that player, he is our Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

    "He is that guy who makes the difference and if you only have him for 40 per cent then it is a huge problem. Given that percentage, it is maybe a miracle that he produces results. 

    "It puts everything into perspective as I saw Liverpool without Van Dijk last season and they struggled heavily. You see the difference. N'Golo is our key player and we need him on the pitch.

    "It's hard to live with. It's important for him to be there and to have the rhythm. I think he played okay but he can play so much better. But when was the last game he started? It was weeks ago. So he constantly starts getting rhythm, but once he has that, there comes a little injury and he's out again.

    "Last year, in the last five matches of the Champions League, he got the [man of the match] trophy. This guy who gets man of the match in every Champions League game, he is only here for 40-something per cent of the matches. This is huge for us."

    Meanwhile, Chelsea were once again left to rely on their wing-backs to provide attacking impetus against the Foxes, with Reece James claiming his eighth league assist of the season by teeing up Alonso's goal.

    James has now created twice as many goals this season as in his previous two Premier League campaigns combined (four assists in 56 appearances), while the Blues also racked up 20 shots to Leicester's two over the course of the contest.

    Christian Pulisic was guilty of missing Chelsea's best chance to claim a second-half winner as the hosts created 1.64 expected goals (xG) to the Foxes' 0.09, and while Tuchel was content with his team's performance, he was again left to bemoan their lack of cutting edge.  

    "We were the better team and deserved to win," he added. "We didn't allow any chances and got punished by a shot from outside the box. We created enough to win, didn't allow transitions and chances for Leicester. So, I am fine with the performance.

    "It's a bit of a broken record, we did not take what we deserve. We needed a goal from a wing-back and an assist from a wing-back."

    Chelsea will round off their Premier League campaign with another home match on Sunday, when relegated Watford travel to Stamford Bridge.

  • 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.