The new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to shape his newly inherited brotherhood into a force to be reckoned with. His Atletico test, leading a team that has seen immense ups and downs, could define its impact.
During his interview before the match before the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, Tuchel had a special glow in mind.
The glimpse of his work he wanted to produce won’t be remembered as an antidote to almost uniformly boring interviews with managers in the age of endless scrutiny on social media, but it was clear he was happy with it.
Chelsea, as Tuchel quietly explained, is akin to an orchestra under his direction, with each part requiring careful guidance and gradual, intricate adjustments in order to become something greater than its players and nurture its abundant talents.
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Tuchel looked even happier after the 1-0 win in Bucharest, even after the best result of his promising early tenure. He got his musical comparison right again, giving the impression that he had spent a lot of time drawing his words as if writing a line to explain to children how quantum physics works.
If nothing else, it has been a slightly more interesting way of repeating the fact that working with a multitude of expensive stars requires a delicate balancing act that takes time, and does not always produce results.
As obvious as the correlation is, the relevance of the comparison in terms of Chelsea’s season can hardly be denied. Without wanting to work on the metaphor any further – and that is a real risk for the rest of the season in view of Tuchel’s behavior and joy – the problem facing predecessor Frank Lampard in his last few weeks at work was his inability to pull a melody out of it. An outstanding one Cast that looked more like struggling soloists than a flowing strong collective for parts of the campaign.
If it’s not impossible to imagine that Chelsea got a similar result against Atletico under Lampard, then surely it is easy to imagine that the Spaniards won the game a month or two ago.
Everyone listens to #Tuchel before the match with RIo, he said at the moment, we are like an orchestra that is given new music to play with. Some orchestras play the piece beautifully, others take more time to rehearse the piece and keep playing it until they are comfortable sind
– Steve Martin (@SteveMartin_TM) February 23, 2021
Thomas Tuchel: “In the end it is like an orchestra, so we have to follow a certain rhythm, a certain discipline, speed and a certain style. This has to be clear to everyone.”[via @ChelseaFC]
– Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) February 6, 2021
Thomas Tuchel: “My job is to win games, not to bring expensive people together.”[via @AdamNewson]
– Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) February 20, 2021
This is less of a criticism of the unfortunate rookie coach than a reflection of the fact that Diego Simeone, the aggressive Atletico boss who is a manager as smart as never before, has won the victory of many great opposition managers through the combination of his squad Pampering, cunning and killer instinct. Atletico, the front runner at the top of the league, has an impressive pedigree in the Champions League.
Needed luck on Tuesday, Chelsea survived after gifting predatory Luis Suarez and $ 137million Joew Felix openings to cause harm. At the same time, there was a streetwise feeling without which they could have passed on a night when fans and players would probably have been happy to get away with a narrow defeat beforehand.
Olivier Giroud’s brilliant winner was not undeserved and it is possible that any weight they felt on their last winless run in eight Champions League knockout games was significantly eased by the completion of that sad record against their most demanding rivals has been.
Just as Chelsea got it halfway through the quarter-finals, Tuchel has got it close to what would eventually mean an undeniable gold standard win. Neither coach is eight games unbeaten without getting something right, but Tuchel cannot refute the number of encounters he had to start his reign. The best win came from a Tottenham side who, if they were an orchestra, would currently have trouble reading the notes on a series of scores that quickly went up in flames.
Chelsea have already shown this season that they can go from harmonious to catastrophic at impressive speed: Less than two months before Lampard was brutally defeated, they were unbeaten in the Champions League and Premier League in 15 games, conceding one in seven Conceded goals Games as part of a steadfastness that included five goals conceded in a row.
The second leg against Atletico could limit the talk of progress by going horribly and quickly wrong: Liverpool took the lead in stoppage time against Simeone’s side at Anfield at this stage of the competition last season, only to get by by three goals to be wiped out in 14 minutes as their visitors went wild to a 4-2 aggregate victory. Given the way Atletico can turn the knife, it is hard to believe that if Chelsea could quit the job, it would be a sign of more than luck.
Progress to the last eight would provide the statement that is lacking in the face of increasing optimism that Tuchel can transform Chelsea, and is an instant, tangible improvement compared to last season’s 7-1 win over Bayern Munich in the last 16 .
Lampard’s fate showed how quickly their fortunes can change, and it’s entirely conceivable that a confidence-altering result could herald the form they won two league games out of eight around the turn of the year.
The self-proclaimed conductor Tuchel has for the time being rediscovered a resilience at Chelsea that, according to initial findings, has the potential to make them again real competitors in Europe and the Premier League. When Atletico visits her on March 17th, it will tell us a lot about how flattering this idea is for the manager’s impact.
By Ben Miller
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