Thomas Tuchel hopes Chelsea will benefit from a rare opportunity to bond in Seville after the squad stayed overnight following their Champions League clash with Porto.
Chelsea lost the second leg of the quarter-final tie following a stoppage-time winner for their Portuguese opponents on Tuesday, though still progressed 2-1 on aggregate.
Rather than fly home immediately after the game in the Spanish city – both fixtures were staged there due to the ongoing travel restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic – Tuchel and his Chelsea players had the chance to get together and relax.
Chelsea head coach Tuchel allowed his Premier League players to have a glass of wine or a beer as they discussed matters away from football before returning to England the next day, a move he hopes has allowed the group to grow even closer as they prepare for a busy run-in to the season.
Chelsea are still fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League, but the immediate focus is on an FA Cup semi-final showdown against Manchester City, with the two heavyweight rivals clashing at Wembley on Saturday.
“We are aware that it is necessary to recover mentally,” Tuchel told the media on the eve of the City game.
“For example, we decided to stay overnight in Seville because we knew the hotel. It was very nice, in a nice setting – we had the chance to sit outside because the weather was very warm.
“It was a calming circumstance to enjoy each other’s company. We had a good sleep and we had a chance to stay together after the match because we created a bubble there.
“It was a good chance because the players have not been able to go out, go to restaurants. For almost a year now, we cannot share a dressing room. So we created this just to feel some time together, have talks outside of tactics and line-ups to just bond, let the players bond, enjoy an evening after a game.
“They could have a glass of wine or sip of beer if they want. It was important to have this environment and organise it like this. It was part of the mental recovery.
“We are aware that we have many meetings after games and training sessions. We want to have sessions where there isn’t too much explanation or talking, just to find exercises on the pitch that bring a lot of fun and joy and sweat out the tension.
“Things like this are very important to help the seriousness of how we prepare and play in games.”
Tuchel will hope the time spent in Spain has refreshed Chelsea prior to taking on the runaway league leaders; City have won six of the past nine meetings in all competitions, including a 3-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge earlier in this campaign.
Frank Lampard was in charge for that game and while Tuchel has lost just twice since taking charge, he has yet to beat Pep Guardiola in his managerial career. All of their previous five head-to-head battles came while both were working in the Bundesliga.