Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea can overcome a lack of Champions League semi-final experience by playing with hunger and enthusiasm when they go up against Real Madrid.
The Blues have made it through to the last four of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since 2013-2014, a season that finished with Madrid winning the trophy in Lisbon.
Los Blancos also won the competition for three successive seasons during Zinedine Zidane’s first spell in charge, with many of the key players involved in that impressive hat-trick still at the club now.
However, Tuchel feels his Chelsea squad are in “a good moment” heading into Tuesday’s first leg in the Spanish capital.
“Every match I feel that we are able to play on a very high level,” Tuchel, who confirmed Mateo Kovacic will miss the game in Madrid through injury, told the media.
“If it’s not possible to play our nicest match, we are always able to not let the opponents play their best match – which is also a definition of performance.
“We have a strong bond; I feel a strong bond within the squad. I feel us very involved physically in the games, ready to work together, to suffer together and, when it’s needed, to respond to the questions. If it’s necessary to fight, then fight; if it’s necessary to run, then run.
“We should not expect crazy things from us, but the same again on the highest level.
“The good thing is we have had the experiences together, tough matches, tight matches, very important matches in the Premier League and the FA Cup, so we feel it’s a good moment to play this match.
“We want to play hungry; we want to play adventurous. Maybe, considering a lack of experience in semi-finals, to compensate with hunger and enthusiasm.”
Both Chelsea and Madrid were involved in the doomed European Super League proposal, leading to speculation they could be kicked out of this season’s Champions League as a consequence.
While that has not happened, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear there will be consequences for the 12 clubs involved.
“We deserve to be in the semi-final, like Real Madrid deserve to be,” Tuchel said. “We have come a long way.
“Of course we deserve to play in a semi-final. If problems persist on a sports political level then they have to be solved at that level, not on the pitch.
“We deserve, through the competition, to be here.”
UEFA announced Champions League reforms last week, including an increase in number of teams from 32 to 36 as the format switches to a league system for the 2024-25 season.
The changes will see more matches for those teams concerned, leaving Tuchel to question why coaches and players were not involved in the planning process.
“I’m not sure if I like it, because I can only see more games out of it,” he said when asked about the new-look competition.
“More games in the schedule that we have is very hard for me to be excited at all. All the discussions about Super League made us forget that we have a new format of the Champions League.
“Did they ask any coach about this? I don’t think so – they didn’t ask me. Did they ask any player about this? I don’t think so.
“We have so many new formats, so many more games. It’s more, more games. It’s not more quality, it’s just more games.
“Who should play in these games? We have three substitutes allowed in the Premier League, one of the toughest competitions. No, I’m not happy about this new format at all.”