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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Stamford Bridge crowd must ‘be better’ against Real Madrid

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There was a flat atmosphere at the Bridge as the Blues suffered a 4-1 defeat to west London rivals Brentford on Saturday, and Tuchel says his side will need a twelfth man in the rematch of last season’s semi-final.

“We absolutely need it,” the Chelsea head coach said. “We need to be better on the pitch – we’re the first to admit it – but we need the crowd to be better. We need everybody on the front foot. It’s a big match, quarter-finals, against a big opponent. It’s a big occasion. I think that normally we have these kinds of atmospheres in the evening games and big matches throughout this season.

“Spectators in the Champions League matches gave us a huge push in terms of atmosphere and energy. We need it. It’s crucial in these games. We feel it in every away game when we play to win: Malmo, Saint Petersburg, Lille. It’s super hard and it’s much harder to play against the spectators as well. We will face it next week in Madrid, so everybody needs to be on the top level. We have to set the spark but everybody needs to arrive tomorrow ready to support.”

Tuchel admitted his side will be aiming to “prove a point” after the shock loss to the Bees, which leaves them looking over their shoulders at chasing rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.

“We are out there to prove a point anyway and to bounce back from Saturday’s performance and to play in the right way, the way we want to play,” he said. “We want to by physical, intense, focused and to be at our very best because this is what we need. We overcame Real Madrid last season but that has nothing to do with our preparation. It’s a new coach, a new team. It’s with spectators and it’s again good to go.

“We talked about [the Brentford game], but no special talks, no special team talk. We talked openly about it in a debrief, which is very usual for us. We set new targets which is what you do in sport no matter whether you win or lose. It was a crucial loss and we absolutely didn’t like what happened. We consider this the exception to the rule. We allowed ourselves on Monday to focus on the match tomorrow because it’s what’s needed.”

Real won the Champions League in four out of five seasons from 2013-2018 and, while they still have many of the same players, they are widely considered to the past the peak of their powers.

Tuchel, though, is wary that Los Blancos are still capable of producing special occasions, as they proved in the last-16 against Paris Saint-Germain, while insisting his players will not lose sleep worrying about Real’s strengths.

REUTERS

“It’s hard to keep up their record,” he said. “They won it three times [in a row] this competition and it’s an incredibly hard tournament to win and they did it three times. They trusted an almost similar squad over a long period of time which was impressive and outstanding. It’s normal that cycles like this change at some point.

“In terms of a winning streak, reaching the final, maybe this is what happened to them. But we should be very aware that teams with this kind of experience, flair and quality can produce special performances on special occasions.

“For us, it’s also a special occasion – we play Real Madrid in a quarter-final. So that’s why we feel pretty excited. We don’t lose too much sleep thinking about where they are. We want to prove a point to ourselves tomorrow. That’s the target. The occasion is special and the opponent is special. That is why we are excited.”

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