Every word Thomas Tuchel said on Thiago Silva, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Atletico Madrid, Luis Suarez
The Blues head coach was speaking shortly before he and his side flew to Romania, where the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie will take place
Thomas Tuchel speaks to the media ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League game with Atletico Madrid
Is winning the Champions League a big personal priority for you?
“No, no. My priority is very simple. My priority is always the game we next play and that has never been different and will hopefully never change. This is exactly what I expect from all my players and all my teams.
“When we wear the Chelsea shirt, we play the Chelsea game and we play to win and to give 100% of our effort and intensity.
“This might someday be better and someday not so good, it always depends on the opponent and the circumstances. But there are no preferences. Not for me and this is what I expect from my players.
“It is very nice and amazing and exciting to play Champions League games. In the knock-out stage you know that you arrive at the highest level. And when you play Atletico in the first round of the knock-out stage, you know you must be at your highest level and this is what we want to have. We feel confident and excited and at the same time focused.”
Thiago Silva’s fitness improving?
“It is but he is not available [for the game]. He is training right now but we are leaving in the next few minutes. He did not do training with the squad and is not available.”
How did Callum Hudson-Odoi react in training having been brought off after 30 minutes against Southampton
“We decided to speak to him in front of the whole group, I had my reasons to do it. Was it the right decision? I don’t know but it was my decision at this moment. For us, we spoke as a whole group to not make it bigger than it is because for us it was not a big thing.
“I know that it could be and sometimes you reflect on why you do it and whether you should do it because sometimes maybe the media and family make it bigger than it was meant. So I did it and we had the only reaction that we wanted.
“He went back to a normal mood, to a good mood, to a smile, and to training and the next day. He was very, very good in training and today. And that’s it. I already said after the game this was the decision for today, this was the lesson to learn from today for him and for me also. We go on and it is forgotten.
“That is absolutely the way so in here at Cobham, between us, between us two, between me and the team business as usual and no big thing.”
Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic, will they travel?
“I’m very happy that both of them are in the group and they trained with us and have no complaints. I am happy they travel with us and are in the squad for tomorrow.”
When this draw took place you were PSG coach. Now you’re at Chelsea, has your vision changed?
“Yes, my vision has changed because I believe the vision of a coach changes with the team and club where you work. It is for me a given you trust the club and respect the structure and power of a club and respect the culture of any country where you work and you adapt to your players and the current style and characteristics of the team.
“This is my job to do and I feel happy to do this because it keeps me awake and keeps me going forward and adapting and developing. It is a bit strange to play a group stage with one team in a different country and arrive in the knock-out with another team, yes I agree. But honestly, I am here three-and-a-half weeks and I jump into this opportunity and I did not regret one single minute.
“I am totally into Chelsea, totally into this club, and 100% into this team. That is why it does not feel so strange anymore, it feels natural to arrive now with my team in Bucharest and I am very happy to arrive with this group.
“We feel strong. We know we have to be strong and brave and have the courage to play against a strong Atletico but this is the challenge we are looking forward to.”
Is this squad equipped to play in the latter stages and is it an advantage to be playing at a neutral venue?
“Yes, clearly it is a disadvantage for Atletico to lose their home ground. We don’t have to talk around that. That is obvious.
“Are we well equipped? Yes. Clearly yes. This is easy to answer. I love what I see on a daily basis here in Cobham, I love what I feel, and I feel the quality and intensity, and enthusiasm in training. The players are eager and hungry to compete and I like what I feel – a strong bond between the players and I feel a strong club.
“I like what I’ve seen in the games, there are a lot of good behaviours and I trust in the quality in the individuals and trust in us as a group. Once you arrive at this stage, there is no other approach than to overperform as a group and this is only possible if you feel the bond between the players if you are involved as a coach and I feel all of these things.
“This is why I am very happy and excited to arrive in Bucharest because since I arrived, I feel we are ready and we are right to trust the boys on the pitch. We have the possibility to take 23 players, we have the possibility to make five changes and it gives us a lot of possibilities that we will use.”
Atletico are a streetwise side, will you tell your players to watch out for anything that might come from them? Do you have to be mentally strong?
“It’s a big test physically and mentally. They are a very experienced group, a very experienced club at his level, and an experienced and tough coach to play against. It’s a big test and that’s what we want because hopefully it brings out the best in us.
“We will do it our way, they will do things their way. It’s clear what you get when you play Atletico: fighting, experience, and a team with a strong mentality. They are many teams that have experienced that. They are the leads in Spain right now but we have our qualities and the focus is on us. ”
Thiago Silva said there is less pressure playing for Chelsea in the Champions League than Paris Saint-Germain, do you agree with that?
“I nderstand why Thiago as a player feels like this. For me as a coach, I never felt like this. In Paris, a lot of judgement is made on the Champions League. Everyone expects you to be domestic champion and win all the cup competitions, so I more or less understand why Thiago says that.
“But when you work as a coach with your staff, you know how hard it is to maintain a certain level to become champions all the time, to win all the knockout games in the cup, and to arrive at the top in the Champions League.
“So for me, I felt it was a big, big challenge to become champion every year in France and to arrive in cup finals. You feel every day what is needed to have this mentality.
“I can understand from the outside, that Thiago feels like this. The Premier League for Chelsea has a much higher value than the domestic league is to Paris. That’s maybe why he feels like this.
“In general, it should always be like this. Sports at the highest level, we have to feel light and feel the joy that comes with playing at this level. So hopefully we feel the joy and adventure of playing at this level.
You tried to sign Luis Suarez in September when at Paris Saint-Germain, what do you like of him as a player and are you aware of his history with Chelsea?
“It was a possibility. We heard the rumours he was about to leave Barcelona, and who can not be interested in signing one of the best strikers in world football history and present? We tried our luck, we did not make it. He decided to stay in Spain, move to Atletico, and has proven his quality.
“He is a natural striker, a born striker, and has a certain mentality that only strikers have. This mentality is to show his will, intensity and anger to score, score and score. He is never satisfied. So what a mentality, what a player.
“I’m not involved in his history with Chelsea and to me it’s never good to look too far in the past. We only look forward.
“We play him tomorrow with Atletico and we know about his qualities. We are aware of them and will try to stop him from scoring.
Can I just confirm that Callum is travelling tomorrow and could start?
Yes, that’s right.
If Luis Suarez was to become available again in the future, would you still be attracted by that chance?
“I don’t know. That was down to a particular moment and he maybe would’ve been a fit to our squad in Paris.
“Now things are different. He is under contract now at Atletico Madrid and it’s not worth thinking about it honestly. I haven’t and the possibility is high we won’t think about it [in the future].”
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