Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has warned his side to forget about defending their European crown, insisting that they’ll get ‘hammered’ by Real Madrid in their return leg if they don’t buck their ideas up. The Blues were soundly beaten 3-1 by the Spanish giants in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday night.
A stunning hat-trick from Karim Benzema – who netted a treble in his second European match in a row after downing Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 – has left the Londoners with a mountain to climb when they travel to the Bernabeu next week.
Kai Havertz netted to give Chelsea hope – but it wasn’t enough to appease Tuchel, who was raging after the match. And he warned his side they could forget about pulling off a second-leg miracle unless they rebound against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday and major improvements are made.
He fumed: “If we play like this, we will lose in Southampton and then we don’t need to think about Bernabeu because we will get hammered in Bernabeu.”
Tuchel had earlier snapped at BT Sport’s Des Kelly in an awkward post-match exchange after the chastening defeat. He asked the pundit: “What do you expect from me? To smile? Of course I am down. No, we don’t have to go to Madrid, we have to go to Southampton. I think this is very, very important we process this. It’s crucial we go to Southampton, and I will make sure everyone processes this.
And when further reflecting on a chastening defeat, the Blues boss insisted Chelsea’s performance was one of the “worst” halves he’d seen since taking charge at Stamford Bridge. He added: “It’s a heavy loss. One of the worst first halves I’ve seen from us at Stamford Bridge. At this level you cannot play like this, individually and a team, from all of us it was not enough. We were not doing what we are used to do, it was far from our standards.
“Everything, when we pass, where we pass, attacking, possession game, the intensity and desire to win challenges, how we closed spaces. The first half was so far from any standards we set ourselves that we cannot complain when we lose like this.”
The nightmare result at Stamford Bridge leaves Chelsea’s hopes of retaining their European crown in tatters. The Blues lifted the Champions League trophy last May just months after Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm in a shock triumph.
But a repeat now looks unlikely after the Londoners were thrashed for the second time in a week. A second half collapse at the weekend saw Chelsea stunned by their neighbours, Brentford, in a 4-1 rubbing in SW6. And with Tottenham now looking rejuvenated under former Blues coach Antonio Conte, Chelsea’s iron-clad grip on third place no longer seems quite so secure.
Steve McManaman said after the game that Tuchel had to reign in his anger ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southampton, or it could have a detrimental impact on the remainder of their season. He told BT Sport: “I fully expect him to be honest. But he has to be careful as well, because he doesn’t want a moment like that to curtail the end of the season.
“There’s still plenty to fight for, but if they do lose to Southampton, they’ve got Tottenham breathing down their necks now and they’ve got to be careful it doesn’t fall away. Get back on, work hard and carry on with a win at the weekend if possible and move forward.”