Thomas Tuchel says he won’t be using Chelsea’s final game of the season to rest players ahead of next weekend’s Champions League final, stressing the importance of building momentum ahead of their trip to Istanbul.
Chelsea could be forgiven for looking past their final-day clash with Aston Villa given the final with Man City is looming on the horizon, but there is plenty on the line when they travel to the Midlands.
If Tuchel’s side fail to pick up a victory, they risk dropping out of the top four and failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League through their league position. They would of course qualify as European champions if they beat City next Saturday, but they don’t want to leave much to chance.
More importantly to Tuchel, their final Premier League fixture is the chance to keep momentum building. For that reason, he won’t be resting players for the clash at Villa Park, even if that means risking more injuries like Kai Havertz and N’Golo Kante have suffered in recent weeks.
Tuchel told his pre-match press conference, quoted by The Guardian: “In a clear sense we want to have them [players] in the final and don’t want to have any injuries like we have with Kai and N’Golo and almost with Mason and Chili, and you always have the risk in any match to have injuries.
“But if we would already be qualified [for the Champions League] you can lose the energy and overthink it. Who do we leave out? Who needs a rest? Suddenly you have this rest and you don’t know if he catches the momentum again.
“I prefer to keep on going and fight for it constantly and not have to deal with the situation where you don’t try, you don’t want to be injured, but you don’t want to lose your rhythm. It’s better just to be all in against Aston Villa and hope for a bit of luck.”
Tuchel was also asked about Chelsea’s last appearance in a Champions League final, when they famously overcame Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout at the Allianz Arena – banishing painful memories of defeat in Moscow to Manchester United four years earlier by the same method.
The German, perhaps because he had no affiliation with Chelsea back then, surprisingly intimated that his current employers had been rather fortunate to win on that particular night, having been rescued by a late Didier Drogba header.
“I think I was in Munich at home and watched it on TV,” he said. “Let’s say it was not absolutely well deserved. It felt more like a burglary.”