Thomas Tuchel called on Chelsea’s supporters to raise the roof when the European champions host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday night.
The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge was muted when Chelsea lost 4-1 against Brentford last Saturday and Tuchel wants the crowd to give his players an extra push against Madrid. “We absolutely need it,” the German said.
“We need to be better on pitch but we also need the crowd to be better. Everyone has to be on the front foot for a big opponent on the big occasions.
“We normally have these atmospheres in evening games and big matches. In the Champions League matches they gave us a huge push in energy and atmosphere. It is crucial in these games. It’s much harder to play against the spectators as well. We felt it in Malmö and St Petersburg. We will face it again in Madrid next week and everyone needs to arrive tomorrow to support us.”
Tuchel insisted he is not thinking about how Chelsea overwhelmed Madrid when the sides met in the semi-finals with no supporters allowed to attend last season. The La Liga leaders have replaced Zinedine Zidane with Carlo Ancelotti since that game and displayed their Champions League credentials when they mounted a brilliant comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 last month.
“Last season has nothing to do with this game,” Tuchel said. “We didn’t look at it in our preparations. We looked at their last matches but not last year. We are out to bounce back from Saturday and to play in the right way – to be physical, intense and focused.”
The message was not to underestimate Madrid, who have dipped since winning their third consecutive Champions League title in 2018. “It’s hard to keep the record,” Tuchel said. “It’s usual that cycles like this change at some point and maybe this what happened to them. But in terms of experience we should be aware that teams like this can produce special nights on special occasions.”
Tuchel said he is not concerned about Andreas Christensen’s focus despite suggestions the defender has already agreed to join Barcelona on a free transfer this summer. “Maybe it’s a bit more challenging for him than normal,” he said. “But maybe he has cleared his future, I don’t know.
“It was very clear when I had conversations with him last season, in summer, autumn and through winter. The bottom line is that as long as you are my player I expect you to be 100%. I won’t start digging into how much he can handle now because this is only a distraction. He was out on Saturday because it was a tactical choice to play a back four.”
Ancelotti was forced to stay in Madrid after testing positive for Covid-19 and it remains to be seen if he is able to fly to London to face his former team. “It does affect the squad but nowadays you are in charge of virtual media so I am pretty sure he can do team talks,” Tuchel said. “I hope he can make it.”
The tie takes place with Chelsea still waiting to see who buys the club from Roman Abramovich. Tuchel’s players have been dealing with huge uncertainty and Madrid’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, hopes his former club are able to move on from their difficulties soon.
“I think it’s been a hard month for the club,” Courtois said. “You can see all the people who love Chelsea are putting their energy together so new owners know what club they are buying and to keep that blue spirit.”
Courtois could receive a hostile reception from the crowd because of the way he left Chelsea for Madrid in 2018. “That’s in the past,” he said. “I won two league titles and two cups. Maybe my departure was less pleasant but it is always difficult to leave. I am here to win tomorrow.”