Thomas Tuchel has told Chelsea’s players there will be no time to celebrate if they beat Leicester City in the FA Cup final… because they must immediately begin preparations for another crunch clash with the same opponents.
The Blues have the opportunity to garnish their impressive recovery under Tuchel with some silverware at Wembley on Saturday.
However, a lacklustre 1-0 loss to Arsenal in midweek leaves their top-four hopes in the balance.
They slipped behind Leicester and are now fourth in the standings, knowing Liverpool could be just a point behind them by the time they host Brendan Rodgers’ side on Tuesday.
“There are no celebrations, no celebrations planned. These are special times,” Tuchel told reporters.
“If we win there’s nothing planned. It’s a bit too close that we play on Tuesday again.
“The situation in the league does not allow us to celebrate. We have two finals coming up and want to win both of them.
“Tomorrow will have a huge physical impact and we need to be ready on Sunday to do a good recovery session and on Monday to prepare for the next games.
“If there are celebrations, we need to delay them to a little bit later.”
Tuchel has a mixed record in finals, winning the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17, having lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in the domestic showpiece 12 months earlier.
He won the 2019-20 Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue, having lost – again on penalties to Rennes – in the final of the former a year earlier. However, a 1-0 defeat to Bayern in last August’s Champions League final prevented a clean sweep.
“It’s very hard to learn from one final to the next final, because you never know how many years or months in between. Your opponent is different, your team is maybe different,” said the 47-year-old, who will lead Chelsea in the Champions League final against Manchester City later this month.
“A general rule is that the more tension, the more decisive character that a game has, the less new information you give. You have short, clear sessions.
“It’s not the moment to learn new stuff and implement new tactical tricks. It’s the moment to be confident and to be well aware what is our style of play, what are our strengths and encourage the players to be on their top level.”
At Dortmund, Tuchel explained his attempts to lighten the mood for such occasions extended to him playing as a goalkeeper in training.
“I gave a lot of confidence to my players,” he chuckled, having confirmed the far more able Kepa Arrizabalaga will be between the posts for Chelsea in the final.
“Laughter is always very, very welcome, but if you try hard to make the group smile it will not happen. It has to come naturally. If you don’t feel it, don’t do it
“The tension will grow once you arrive at Wembley. There will be a certain energy that maybe you cannot prepare for. Adapt to it, go for it and embrace the challenge.
“It’s normal to be excited and nervous.”
In terms of his own preparations when it comes to dealing with those nerves, Tuchel revealed he practices meditation.
“Just 20 minutes, breathe in, breathe out and try hard to do nothing,” he added.
“Some years ago I came into this. It helped me, it was a nice experience when I was between coaching Mainz and Dortmund.
“Sometimes I’m very disciplined and do it twice and day, sometimes I am not so disciplined for weeks.”
Discipline will be a watchword for Chelsea this weekend – especially immediately after full-time if they manage to secure the club’s ninth FA Cup.