Despite the chaos surrounding their sale, Chelsea have done their job and reached the Champions League quarterfinals. Thomas Tuchel and his men are on their mission to defend the title they won last season. Moreover, the Champions League and FA Cup are the only two competitions where the Blues are alive. Tuchel arrived at Chelsea in January last year, and 4 months later was lifting the Champions League trophy. The German has proved his mettle and can even successfully defend the title too. However, the Blues’ route to the final will decide their fate.
When Tuchel was appointed in 2021, the manager’s plans for Chelsea were crystal clear from his comments. One would have thought his comments were a sign of over-confidence, Tuchel stood to his words 4 months later.
“As a manager, there is no time to waste. Honestly, now we compete for the FA Cup, we will get ready to compete at the highest level in Champions League, and we want to create a team that is absolutely no fun to play against,”
was Tuchel’s aim when signed for Chelsea in 2021. While Chelsea have somewhat lived up to Tuchel’s claims, here’s how the Londoners can go on to win their second straight UCL title.
Chelsea and their best possible route to Champions League final: Evade this club
Only eight teams remain in the Champions League. Chelsea could be drawn to anybody, even their compatriots from the Premier League. While Benfica and Villarreal may seem easy opponents here, Chelsea should avoid one particular club in the quarterfinals. It’s not the in-form Manchester City, nor the red-hot Liverpool, Bayern Munich are the team Chelsea should avoid.
The German giants have been lethal as usual in the Champions League this season, with Lewandowski leading the offense. Bayern have scored 30 goals this season in 8 Champions League games. Moreover, they have been scoring goals for fun in the knockout games since last few seasons. Bayern knocked out Lazio 6-1 on aggregate last season in the round of 16. While 2019/20 season was like a firecracker one for the Bavarians.
They destroyed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals and thumped Lyon 3-0 in the semifinals. However, one nightmarish memory the Blues will have from Bayern’s 2019/20 UCL-winning season is the round of 16. Chelsea were absolutely dismantled by Bayern Munich over the two legs of the round of 16. The Bundesliga side first quashed Chelsea 3-0 at the Stamford Bridge and ran riot in the 2nd leg at the Allianz Arena with a 4-1 win.
Bayern Munich are definitely a team to avoid for Chelsea if they are to make it to the Champions League final. No matter the quality they have in their squad, Bayern’s ruthlessness spares none.
Clubs Chelsea can get the better of
If Bayern avoided, Chelsea can take on any of the remaining challengers. Then be it last year’s finalists Manchester City, or 2018-19’s winners Liverpool. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Atletico would also do for the Blues, and who would say no to Villarreal or Benfica. Tuchel has overpowered Guardiola’s City since taking over the Chelsea job. His masterstroke was seen in the last year’s Champions League final when Chelsea defeated favorites Manchester City. Moreover, as the Chelsea boss, Tuchel has faced City 5 times in all competitions till now, winning 3 times.
Liverpool would also prove to be a tough test, but Tuchel’s tactics are never to doubted at the most crucial times. Though Tuchel lost this year’s league Cup final to Liverpool (on penalties), Chelsea were clearly the better side over the 120 minutes. Real Madrid have also suffered Tuchel’s tactical masterclasses in recent times.
The Spanish club was knocked-out by Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate in last year’s campaign. Atletico are a stubborn side, but their struggles this season have been evident. Benfica and Villarreal may seem weaker teams here, but they have caused some serious upsets this season. But still, Chelsea would be hoping they get Benfica or Villarreal in the quarters.
Preferred opponents in the final
Given Manchester City’s form, an obvious answer would be last season’s repeat of the final. But Liverpool would be more intriguing and exciting opponents in the final for Chelsea. Guardiola since joining City has got a knack for overthinking the most crucial and (on paper) easy games. City were clear favorites last season, yet they lost against Chelsea. City were clear favorites in the quarterfinals of the 2019/20 season, yet they lost against Lyon. On the other hand, Klopp’s formula is simple and clear; just win the game.
Tuchel vs Klopp and Chelsea vs Liverpool would be a perfect ending to the 2021/22 season. The Reds found it difficult to cope with Tuchel’s tactics in the League Cup final for the major part of the game. Chelsea even scored three past Liverpool in the 120 minutes, only for each of them to be ruled offside. If a Chelsea vs Liverpool final is on the cards, Tuchel’s men will want their revenge from the League Cup final defeat.
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