special atmosphere | 

Thomas Tuchel warns Chelsea players and fans to be on ‘front foot’ for Real challenge

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Matt LawTelegraph Media Group Limited

Thomas Tuchel has appealed for the Chelsea fans to be “better” and make the most of the fact they are allowed into Stamford Bridge by creating a special atmosphere for the visit of Real Madrid tonight.

Chelsea supporters were able to buy tickets for the first leg of the club’s Champions League quarter-final, ensuring there will be a full house at Stamford Bridge, unlike in the Premier League, where the operating licence prevents those who are not season ticket holders attending.

Without a capacity crowd, the Stamford Bridge atmosphere was flat for Saturday’s defeat by Brentford and Tuchel wants those fans who have been able to buy a ticket to make it count tonight.

Chelsea beat Real on their way to Champions League success last season in two behind-closed-door games, but Tuchel knows home advantage could play a crucial part in this season’s quarter-final with supporters back in stadiums.

“We absolutely need it (the crowd),” Tuchel said. “We need to be better on the pitch, but we also need the crowd to be better. Everyone has to be on the front foot for a big opponent on big occasions for the quarter-finals.

“We normally have these atmospheres in evening games and big matches. In the Champions League matches, they gave us a huge push in energy and atmosphere. We needed it. It’s crucial in these games. It’s much harder to play against the spectators as well. We felt it in Malmo and St Petersburg. We will face it again in Madrid next week and everyone needs to arrive tomorrow to support us.”

Tuchel also warned that last season’s success against Real meant nothing to Chelsea’s chances of progressing to the last four.

“Last season has nothing to do with this game,” Tuchel said. “We looked at their last matches, but not last year. There is not a point to prove or whatever. We overcame Real last season, but it has nothing to do with this game.”

Real arrived in London yesterday without their head coach, former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, but the Italian has not given up hope of testing negative for Covid in time to join up with his squad today.

Tuchel missed the semi-finals of the Club World Cup through Covid before meeting up with his team for the final and, although he believes it would give Real a boost, he hopes Ancelotti is in the opposite dugout.

“It does affect the squad, but nowadays you are in charge of virtual media so I am pretty sure he can do team talks and stuff,” Tuchel said.

“It’s strange when the coach is missing. I hope he still makes it. He’s a big personality and it would be nice to have him on the sidelines in these games.”

Tonight’s meeting will see Thibaut Courtois return to his former employers and the Real Madrid goalkeeper urged

Chelsea’s suitors to keep the Blues at the top of the world game. Four rival consortiums are locked in negotiations to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, who is selling the London club amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it’s been a hard month for the club and for the fans, but I think you can see that all the people that love Chelsea are really putting all their energy together,” said Courtois.

“The new owners must know what club they are buying. And hopefully they can keep that spirit that has always been here.

“In total I was part of Chelsea for seven years, and that was a big part of my career.

“They gave me the chance to grow myself, to come back and to learn with Petr Cech. And I won two Premier League titles, so I’m always happy to come back here.”

The 29-year-old Belgium No 1 will also come face-to-face with international team-mate Romelu Lukaku, who has struggled to impose himself on Tuchel’s side since his club-record £98m move from Inter Milan last summer.

“Romelu’s an excellent player and someone I know well from the international team of course,” said Courtois.

“He’s a great striker, so it’s a bit strange not to see him play so much lately, but I’m sure he will come through it.

“Sometimes you just need a little bit of adaptation. I had the same thing in my first year at Madrid. And I’m sure he will come good.”

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