Thomas Tuchel tries to manage expectations for Champions League title holders

The Chelsea boss believes it is realistic not to expect too much of the Blues this season despite the £98million summer signing of Romelu Lukaku.
Thomas Tuchel tries to manage expectations for Champions League title holders

By Nick Purewal, PA

Thomas Tuchel has attempted to manage Stamford Bridge expectations by insisting title-holders Chelsea are not Champions League favourites.

Last season German boss Tuchel transformed Chelsea from muddled men after Frank Lampard’s exit to European champions in just 124 days.

The £98million (€113m) statement summer signing of hitman Romelu Lukaku has only heightened excitement in west London, but Tuchel believes a dose of realism is in order to curb the enthusiasm.

Manchester City v Chelsea – UEFA Champions League – Final – Estadio do Dragao
Thomas Tuchel lifts the Champions League trophy after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City in Porto in May (Adam Davy/PA)

“It is hard to be seen as an underdog when you have just won a title, but I think we came from a role as not favourites last season, and we got better with every match,” said Tuchel.

“Then maybe we were seen as real contenders very late in the competition, that can sometimes help.

“Now it is of course easy to make us favourites. We have the experience that it gives us a higher value to play against us, a higher motivation for the opposition to play against us, and we have to accept this because it is our fault, we have won this competition.

“It is no secret that we like this role, to perhaps come as an outsider or a challenger for this title, I think we are.

“I don’t think we are favourites, but we have shown everybody the performances we are capable of and that is now on us to make ourselves free from these expectations and for them to not become our expectations.

“We need to stay realistic, that we have absolutely clear what we demand.

“This is a very high standard we want to reach in any match. The performances come from narrowing down and going step by step and this is what we try to do.”

Chelsea launched the defence of their Champions League crown by edging past Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on September 14th.

The Blues now head to Turin to face Juventus on Wednesday smarting from a first defeat in the new season in Saturday’s 1-0 home loss by Manchester City.

Tuchel admitted his switch of formation to 3-5-2 accounted for the Blues’ passivity without the ball against City — a shortcoming he will bid to rectify ahead of the Juventus clash.

“The choice of the system maybe led to this behaviour, so we are all in this,” said Tuchel.

“It’s a very complex game where we have to be in all the spaces, but the best way to defend is having the ball and then to counter-press without the ball.

“City did this excellently in this match, they clearly had a very, very strong performance.

“We underperformed, they made us underperform, but there’s enough room to bounce back.”

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