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Tuchel: Chelsea comeback not about belief, but about ‘not accepting’

And also, you know, playing better

Lille OSC v Chelsea FC: Round Of Sixteen Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Chelsea need an historic comeback Tuesday night against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. If this were a sports movie, this is where the music would swell dramatically as the coach gave a rousing speech about believing and never giving up and all the other classic cliches.

But Thomas Tuchel is approaching things in a much more realistic way. That might come across as “fatalist” or defeatist — and did for many in the post-match press conference after the first leg — but it also speaks to a clarity of vision rather just blind hope. We’re not approaching tomorrow night simply looking for a miracle. We have a plan.

“What chance [do we have]? Not the biggest chance given the first game’s results and given the competition and the opponent and the stadium we play.

“[But] we never manage our input and our effort and our belief by the chances we have for our result. We never did and we will not start tomorrow.”

So what are we doing then?

FBL-EUR-C1-CHELSEA-REAL MADRID Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Well, it certainly has to start by learning from last week but also by simply playing better, in all phases and in every aspect, but especially in terms of physicality.

“We need absolutely to learn from last week’s game [...] use pictures and moments and situations from the first leg to learn from for the second leg. This is what we tried to do and what we will use in the preparation for this match.

“[We] wanted it more physical, we did not work hard enough. We did not work intensely enough in the first match. [We] are a team that needs the physicality, the sharpness, the investment to be a special team. We could not implement that enough in the last match. This was also due to their quality and capacity to slow the game down and control the match by ball possession, this is what it is.

“[We] struggled last week to implement that, we struggled with our counter-pressing and finding intensity and runs. Can we do it now? Let’s see. The game is totally different but we will need to find a way to play a more physical game and this is part of the solution.”

The focus is thus firmly on what we can do to change our fate rather than relying on fate to change things for us.

Chelsea FC v Real Madrid Quarter Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Tuchel of course realizes that were we to engineer a comeback, it would be a tremendous sporting story, full of heroes and villains and miracles and all the usual characters and story beats that such occasions engender. But at the heart of it, it’s all about us.

“We need nothing else than a fantastic script if we want to be able to overcome this. The task is incredibly high and the challenge is incredibly high given the circumstances of the first leg and where we play, against who we play, and the stage we play this kind of match.

“[It’s] sometimes important to imagine things and to dream about but it will not shift the focus from the fact we need to deliver and be ready tomorrow. [We] have a match where belief grows by our actions.

“[We cannot accept] it before it ends. By not accepting it and by leaving everything on the pitch that we have and by showing we can work harder, play better, that we know we can take more risks and that we show our true face and live up to our full potential.”

-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London

You deserve what you accept.