Tuchel masters Zidane as Chelsea go from strength to strength


Soccer Football - Champions League - Semi Final Second Leg - Chelsea v Real Madrid - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - May 5, 2021 Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and the bench react at the end REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Thomas Tuchel added Zinedine Zidane to his list of victims as the German's stunning transformation of Chelsea continued on Wednesday with his vibrant side eclipsing Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final in style.

The former Paris St Germain coach arrived in January to replace Stamford Bridge great Frank Lampard with Chelsea's expensively-assembled squad lacking identity.

Lampard loyalists cried foul at the brutal sacking of the club's leading scorer and they were singing his name loudly outside the ground before kickoff on Wednesday.

But with Tuchel having taken Chelsea from ninth in the Premier League to fourth, into the FA Cup final and now into their first Champions League final since 2012, few would deny that hiring the 47-year-old was anything other than a masterstroke.

Since Tuchel took charge, Chelsea's record in all competitions is won 16, drawn six and lost two.

Under Tuchel, big-money signings Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have begun to flourish, young English midfielder Mason Mount has taken his game to another level and N'Golo Kante has rediscovered his best form.

Wednesday's 2-0 cruise past 13-times European champions Real Madrid for a 3-1 aggregate win, a scoreline that flattered the Spaniards, was Chelsea's 18th clean sheet under Tuchel.

That statistic could hint at a defensive, cautious approach. But the opposite is true. Tuchel's side produced a dazzling display of fluent attacking football against Real and but for a flurry of missed chances that had the German raging on the touchline it could have been a rout.

Zidane was looking to secure his fourth Champions League semi-final progression, a feat managed only by Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti and Marcello Lippi.

But he was out-thought and his team outplayed as Tuchel reached the final for the second successive season having taken PSG to the showpiece last year only to lose to Bayern Munich.

He will have to outwit Pep Guardiola in Istanbul as Chelsea take on Premier League champions-elect Manchester City in the second all-English Champions League final in three years.

But he has already proved a match for Guardiola when Chelsea beat City in the FA Cup semi-final.

He has also got the edge on Liverpool's Juergen Klopp, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and Jose Mourinho this season and could now deliver something very special in the weeks ahead.

"I'm very, very happy that we've achieved this," Tuchel said. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to live my life in football. To have this passion as a profession.

"I'm more than grateful and to do it on this level. I'm very thankful. We need to wait and see -- hopefully we arrive in Istanbul with a good squad, in a good moment with a good atmosphere. It's not done yet -- we want to go all the way, and that means we will arrive in Istanbul to win."

Werner, whose improvement under Tuchel epitomises the impact the coach has had, said the team is brimming with belief.

"What we did today was incredible," Werner, whose first-half goal gave Chelsea control, said. "The rhythm was unbelievable against a team with world-class players in every position.

"We are young but we are not stupid and don't make easy mistakes. We were very, very good today."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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