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One step beyond: Tuchel looking take Chelsea to the next level after Champions League trophy

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Closing the gap

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Manchester City v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

May 19. May 29. Chelsea are Champions of Europe. Again.

But if 2012 felt like a culmination and a lucky miracle, 2021 feels more like a beginning and a relentless inevitability. The winning goal in 2012 was scored a 34-year-old Didier Drogba. The winning goal in 2021 was scored by a 21-year-old Kai Havertz, assisted by a 22-year-old Mason Mount.

The Champions League was the missing piece for many of the players in 2012. It is the first piece for many in 2021. That may be akin to eating dessert before dinner, but the hunger is the same either way.

And it’s a hunger that head coach Thomas Tuchel will be looking to use next season to continue closing the proverbial gap. We may have beaten Manchester City three times in three different competitions in the last three months, but they’re still the gold standard in the Premier League. And the true test of a team’s greatness is a league, not a knockout, and doing it year after year, not just as a one-off.

That’s the next step.

“We have a strong bond, group who can really defend which is a huge part of football and have answers on all questions in the game. The level is set from us, once celebrations are over we have digested this experience, it is the moment to evolve and to use it.”

“We still have work to do to close the gap. That is what I am here to do.”

Tuchel is expected to sign a new contract this summer to continue that work, which he began barely six months ago, in the cold dark days of late January. The future looks much brighter now, even if it’s tempered by our history. But Tuchel has an amazing chance to set the foundation of this team for the next generation, just as José Mourinho did a decade and a half ago.

Manchester City v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Given COVID regulations and Roman Abramovich’s UK visa situation, the first time Tuchel met the owner was after the final whistle tonight in Porto. Perhaps the next one will be to shake hands over said new contract.

“I’m not even 100 per cent sure but maybe I am ready to have a new contract with that win! I spoke to Roman on the pitch, it was maybe the best moment to do it but now it can only get worse!”

Of course, there will be plenty of time to think about and plan for the future. Tonight, today, tomorrow, the day after, and for a good while longer, it’s time to celebrate and to appreciate.

“It is a fantastic achievement, congratulations to everybody. We kn ew that we needed a strong, top level performance and strong bond today to overcome this emotion, to have a chance to win this match. This is what we did. I am almost speechless.

“[...] now is the time to celebrate for some days to enjoy and to let it sink in, absolutely.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

Champions of Europe.

Manchester City v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

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