Thomas Tuchel (and Thiago Silva) are returning to the Champions League final are coming oh so close last season, when they lost to Bayern Munich with PSG. Silva of course arrived as a free agent in the summer while Tuchel joined as a pseudo-interim replacement for Frank Lampard in late January. He now becomes the fifth mid-season managerial appointee to lead Chelsea to a European final (out of the last six we’ve contested, with the 2019 Europa League final under Sarri the only exception).
Chelsea are very good at sacking their manager mid-season and then reaching a European final.— Richard Martin (@Rich9908) May 5, 2021
1998 Cup Winners' Cup Gullit/Vialli
2008 Champions League Mourinho/Grant
2012 Champions League AVB/Di Matteo
2013 Europa League Di Matteo/Benitez
2021 Champions League Lampard/Tuchel
That statistical oddity shouldn’t lessen the magnitude of the turnaround Tuchel has engineered in his few short months at the Bridge, turning Chelsea in a near-relentless winning machine that can not only hang with the best of the best, but at times play them off the park just as we did against Real Madrid over much of the 180 minutes of this semifinal tie.
And this time, not even a bit of Karim Benzema magic could save the Galacticos, with Tuchel reflecting afterwards on the job done by his charges.
“Real had a lot of possession and they made us suffer, but then we were dangerous with counter-attacks and never lost the hunger, never lost their desire to defend. Second half was even better, the structure to defend and in the second half, we could’ve scored much earlier [and] more.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and big congratulations to the team. Real Madrid, of course, are always dangerous. they can turn nothing into goals. So, to hang in there, even when you have chances and miss them, they never lost concentration, focus, and a positive energy on the pitch. This was a huge performance.”
We have plenty of other major concerns before this final on May 29, including a top-four finish that still hangs in the balance as well as the final of the FA Cup. The margins between a most outstanding season and a potentially very disappointing one remain incredibly small. But that’s the name of the game. That’s why players play the game. That’s why coaches coach the game. For that chance to achieve ultimate glory.
“I’m very happy that we’ve achieved this. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live my life in football and this passion as a profession. So grateful to do it on this level and to get to another final, I’m very grateful for that.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BT Sport via BBC
Tonight, we celebrate.
And then, it’s back to work.