Thomas Tuchel has urged Chelsea fans not to vent their anger over the European Super League fiasco on the players.
Chelsea travel to Real Madrid for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with the Super League’s spectacular collapse still reverberating around the continent.
Chelsea were the first club to pull out on Tuesday, 20 April, just 48 hours after the controversial 12-team breakaway competition was launched.
Blues supporters’ vehement public protests forced the club into a U-turn, but manager Tuchel has called on fans to back his team in their first Champions League semi-final since 2014.
‘We need all the support to be able to overcome this huge step in these two games,’ said Tuchel.
‘So, put your anger to the decision, put your anger to the way the decision was presented, which is well understood by me and absolutely fine by me.
‘But don’t put it on the team and never doubt the love that all the people here in Cobham – and I’m sure all the other clubs – don’t doubt the love everyone has for this game.
‘And you will see all the passion on the pitch tomorrow again.’
Chelsea and Manchester City were the first clubs to pull out of the now-doomed Super League last Tuesday, with Blues supporters descending on Stamford Bridge to protest ahead of the goalless Premier League draw with Brighton.
England’s ‘big six’ clubs have all withdrawn from the competition along with three more of the original dozen, although Madrid president Florentino Perez – the ESL chairman – is refusing to give up on the concept.
While Blues boss Tuchel can understand Chelsea fans’ frustrations, he admitted hoping he and the players can count on their backing in a big week.
When asked if he fears neutral fans will not support Chelsea this week, Tuchel replied: ‘Really, do you think that? And then they want to see us fail against Real Madrid, because they were not part of this?
‘Come on, we all make mistakes. And if you lead a club and if you own a club, you can make decisions that not everybody understands and not everybody likes.
‘This is part of life and does not change the love for the game.
‘I can just tell everybody that I love this game so, so much, like everybody in the dressing room.
‘The boys are so happy out there on the pitch with a smile, so excited about tomorrow’s game.’
Chelsea and Madrid have both avoided expulsion from this term’s Champions League over their failed Super League ambitions, with Tuchel insisting this was the right decision from European governing body Uefa.
‘We deserve to be in the semi-final, just like Real Madrid,’ said Tuchel.
‘And we don’t deserve it because of political decisions, or influence, or size, or nice shirts: we deserve it because we came a long way.
‘Obviously I was part of it since the knockout phase.
‘And all teams have come a long way, they have fought their way through on sporting results, in the toughest competition in Europe.
‘So, of course we deserve to play the semi-final.
‘If a problem exists on a sports political level then it has to be solved on this level, not during a competition which is not affected.
‘Right now we deserve through the competition to be there.
‘That’s why we are full of confidence and looking forward to playing these matches on the highest level because that’s what we all dream about when we are kids.’
Chelsea’s young squad might lack for experience heading into Tuesday’s clash with European giants Real, but Tuchel insisted his fast-improving Blues have all the tools required for victory.
Tuchel is the first manager to keep Chelsea unbeaten in his first 10 away matches at the helm, with the Blues already boasting 17 clean sheets in his tenure.
Asked how Chelsea can topple Madrid, Tuchel replied: ‘Be ourselves. Rely on our strengths and do the things that make you confident.
‘We have these things as a team. The challenge is to be the best version of ourselves.
‘Maybe the next level is to keep the level, sometimes it’s like this. Don’t drop the level.’
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