Thomas Tuchel plays down expectations as Chelsea Cup campaigns keep the Blues busy

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has backed his knockout kings to deliver again when they host Lille in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday.

The Blues needed an 89th-minute winner from Hakim Ziyech to clinch all three points at Crystal Palace on Saturday after a subdued performance in which Romelu Lukaku had just seven touches on the ball.

While Chelsea have struggled for consistency in the Premier League this season and appear to be out of title contention, they continue to be cup specialists.

Victory in Abu Dhabi earlier in February added the Club World Cup to the trophy cabinet at Stamford Bridge and with a place in the Carabao Cup final, an FA Cup fifth round tie to Luton coming up in March and their Champions League campaign. Resuming on Tuesday, there is plenty to play for for the west London side despite a few months of ups and downs.

Tuchel said: “I think it’s very important for us right now to be realistic and not expect too much from us.

“Also accepting matches against teams in the mid-table or at the bottom of the table can become difficult matches. Once we accept it, it’s the first step to feeling a certain freedom and becoming better, which we don’t expect too much.

“We shouldn’t expect too much from how others see us and if we’re the favorites against Lille, just accept that it’s a phase where things seem a little tight and a little more difficult than at others. times.

“We will accept it and that is the situation for Tuesday’s game. First of all we play at Stamford Bridge and we are confident that we will have a good performance because we are delivering at a high level in the knockout games. , cup matches, Champions League matches.

Tuchel was told Lille would have extra preparation time after being in Ligue 1 on Friday, but the German stressed that Chelsea’s trip on a weekend when Storm Eunice wreaked havoc was relatively favorable.

“I think Saturday to Tuesday night for us as a home game and playing in London shouldn’t be a problem,” he added.

“Sometimes it can result in a big advantage if there is a tight schedule.

“But we will be ready to fight with Lille at an OK level so it shouldn’t be decisive.”

Chelsea were without captains Cesar Azpilicueta and Callum Hudson-Odoi due to muscle problems suffered in training ahead of the trip through the capital.

We are confident of having a good performance as we deliver at a high level in knockout games, cup games, Champions League games.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel revealed the duo could be fit for the midweek European encounter and also gave an update on fears during their visit to Lille for the second leg on March 16 that any unvaccinated player in the Blues squad could not enter France.

“We are trying, we are trying to get them fit for Tuesday,” the 48-year-old explained.

“I think the current rules allow us to travel with everyone and we need everyone.”

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