Thomas Tuchel raised the stakes ahead of Chelsea’s crucial home game against Leicester, putting aside his disappointment at losing the FA Cup final to Brendan Rodgers’ side and insisting that qualification for the Champions League has always been your highest priority.
Chelsea are one point ahead of Liverpool in fifth place with two games to go and another stumble could see them fall outside the top four. That would leave their hopes of making the Champions League dependent on winning the competition by defeating Manchester City in the final on May 29 and Tuchel is desperate to avoid that scenario, even though he was reluctant to accept that financial significance finishing fourth is Tuesday. The league game of the night against Leicester, third, was bigger than their showdown at Wembley.
“It would seem like I’m a sore loser if I say yes,” Tuchel said. “I am not a good loser, but I want to be a respectful loser and I am not here to downplay the game for financial reasons. We lost a great game, it was a great game for us, we brought out the best possible team. We did not rest anyone because we had the feeling that this match tomorrow is more important.
But there is a but. Do we want to play the Champions League next season? Yes, this is the goal when I entered this club. I want to be very clear: the task was: ‘Let’s try everything to be in the top four.’ The task was not: ‘Let’s try everything to win the FA Cup’ because the FA Cup, no matter how big, does not take you to the Champions League next season. It is the first four that bring us that.
“Tomorrow is another great game but, as I said, this game was great for us. It was a final. Once you can collect silverware, you try everything simply out of respect. And me and the players, be very sure of this, we do not think about the amount of money that we win. This is not in our heads. “
Tuchel questioned why Chelsea and Leicester have had little time to recover from the final, noting that both sides would have benefited from another day of rest. Chelsea’s final league game of the season will see them visit Aston Villa on Sunday.
“We never understood this and we said before that we couldn’t understand why both teams are involved and it would have been easier for both teams to have had a game on Wednesday because the next game is on Sunday,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason to play on Saturday, Tuesday, Sunday. It is absolutely logical to play the game on Wednesday. From a sporting point of view, no one can disagree. But, okay, we can’t wish for another date to play, so we’ll be ready tomorrow. “
Tuchel added that he would like Chelsea to recognize Antonio Rüdiger’s good form by extending the defender’s contract before it expires next year. “Nothing is better than what you are doing for a new contract,” he said. “If he wants to have a new contract, he has our full support to stay at the club. Talk to their performances; it has been amazing from day one. We chose him in the first match after just one day of training.
“He’s an aggressive leader, he has that natural aggressiveness in him. He hates losing, he is difficult to beat in duels, he is very brave and full of energy in his defense. Lead by example. This is what we like. When he can channel all of this into the best performances, as he does now, we are very happy to have him. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism