Describe this week and how you’re feeling heading into the game
I would say I have full trust in everybody once it is about hunger, always on the highest level in sport it comes down to the question of how badly do you want it.
But I felt us very concentrated, very focused, very disciplined in the build-up of this week.
I feel us with a genuine confidence, which is very nice to have, and a very nice feeling to arrive in a final with.
We had two training sessions in London, one yesterday we did a bit of a tactical session because today is obviously live.
So today is the last training, to find out the last details, get the last feeling and more importantly for the players to get a feeling about the stadium. Feel it, smell it, and then the occasion is coming closer.
And from dinner today we will have a countdown with two meetings tomorrow, and the big match coming up.
This game is another chapter in Pep vs Tuchel
It’s much more than that, I would never suggest it’s me against him, because we don’t have a match of tennis tomorrow. We arrive with our teams, and Pep will prepare his team and I will prepare my team, the best way possible.
We have had two experiences now against them in different competitions, and two different matches, two different line-ups and tomorrow will be a very different line-up I think from Man City.
But nevertheless we have the experience of how much we had to suffer, the experience of how brave, how courageous we need also to play in certain moments of the game.
For me it’s about to, about this tomorrow, it’s always tough to play against City, Bayern or Barcelona when Pep is at the sideline. They create and he creates this team with this huge belief, and this huge success, and continuously winning mentality.
So they are maybe at the moment the strongest team in Europe and maybe in the world, and they have a huge gap, they have built a huge gap between them and us in the league.
But we closed the gap for 90 minutes in Wembley, we closed the gap for 90 minutes at City, and this is what we want to do tomorrow.
How has the perception of young, English talent changed in recent years with plenty on show tomorrow?
I think football in general has changed. The game has become more technical and faster and faster.
In every position, players are all-rounders. The strikers also defend, they need to run and do dribbles, win balls back. The midfielders need to do everything and defenders attack spaces now with the ball and without the ball. They need to be brave and courageous to cover a huge space and not only sit deep.
The game itself has changed and it is a constant change and so do the players who are the biggest part of this game. We have a lot of young English talents in Bundesliga so we were well aware of all their quality and that does not change when you work in France or in England.
I am glad to have these players. At this moment they are in the toughest league in the world and this is what shapes their attitude and our club has a strong work ethic, also a strong club that sharpens your mentality and attitude. This is very good and one we go. We trust them, they are a big part of our squad.
Want to shape Chelsea into the team that people fear – are Man City that team at the moment and your message to your team?
Well it is hard to answer in detail because these are the messages for my team. We had some already yesterday in Cobham and it is pretty much our routine to have a tactical session, divide it into offense and defence. We are well aware that Man City is the benchmark with this team and manager over the last years but in football you are always able to close the gap. We have done that twice and we will try again tomorrow.
How did we do it before? We were courageous and brave, we suffered together and we were strong as a team with belief and quality and we did show up in every single minute. This is pretty much it.
You need to break it down into behaviour, into little details and this is what we do with the team.
It is the best news ever, no injuries and I hope it stays like this until after the training today.
Have you practiced penalties – could Mendy or Kepa take on if needed?
Well, I hope so.
We always practice penalties when facing a match where it is possible to end in this way. Can we simulate the pressure, the fatigue, the occasion and how it will be tomorrow? No.
But still we believe we can take care of that, a certain rhythm and habit during penalties.
Still, we believe that we can take care of some patterns, rhythms and certain habits during penalties which we did.
Honestly, the penalty shootout was fantastic in terms of quality from the takers, I don’t think I ever saw something like this. 20 penalties taken in a row on no miss. They were so well-taken. Let’s see.
We have identified the guys who should take the penalties for us, but in the end, I don’t know who is on the pitch. In the end, we need to be well prepared. We will go into it together no matter what happens.
What you and your staff can do after reaching the final last year with PSG?
It is a different team and a very different situation.
If I was a player, I wouldn’t like my coach to talk about his personal experience in the last year. If I was a player, that would only help me if we had that experience together that we could share, use and grow from it. But, like you said, for me and my staff, the experience is a crucial thing. After every match I am a smarter coach with more experience.
This is the demand I have for myself, learning lessons from defeats. It was a three match tournament a knockout tournament. It was Bayern Munich vs Paris so there’s not much that we can say that we did wrong and say we can learn to say we need to make it happen. Like I said, we need all the matches to evolve as coaches and this was a big part of it.
We feel that we have come a long way, six matches played in the Champions League together after Frank played a fantastic group stage. We feel that we have worked hard to be here. We feel absolutely the hunger that we are happy but not overexcited to be here. We want to be overexcited after the match.
We are here to win the trophy. Maybe as the slight underdogs but this does not change anything and we want to leave Porto with the trophy.
I don’t know what to expect honestly. We have to wait, I am not in Pep’s head and I don’t know what he thinks and predicts. Just to make this clear, preparing a team is not that I give them the impression that I know what is going to happen tomorrow. I simply do not know.
Happy to be back in Portugal?
Personally I am very happy to be back in Portugal, I have so many good memories being here and I could have not imagined that I would be here so often and the possibility.
Last time I was here in Porto I was a huge admirer of the stadium. Now to be here again and we played against Porto, but needed to be in Sevilla and not here, in this stadium brings these memories back. We played the teams from Lisbon, Benfica and Sporting and we played the final eight in Lisbon.
Now they brought it to Porto and it feels very good to be here. Everybody is super friendly. It is a fantastic stadium, from a fantastic club that I watched from my early childhood when they played against Bayern Munich in the final and so a lot of memories come up and I am very happy to share this with my family in the stands and that means a lot to me.
Can you use emotions attached to the game in an effective way to get the best from the players?
Yesterday we were very concentrated and we had to because we had a tactical training session and it was in the manner that we normally do tactical sessions.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pretend this is a normal week because it is not a normal week. Everybody feels different about it, but we arrive and the countdown is on for a big, big match, maybe the biggest match in Europe. So it is a very exciting, very demanding week, mentally, physically and we need to get it right.
We coaches need to get it right.
Today, for example was a very relaxed day. We had the possibility to try some quality time on the hotel. The beautiful hotel, beautiful weather to relax and breathe a bit and the atmosphere around it to connect with our core, our love for the game our passion that we all share as little kids.
To connect with that, that was the day today. I think the tension is building very naturally. If you can wish for something, we don’t want to arrive in a final overexcited and we don’t want to arrive under-excited like to play cool. We are not cool. The best thing is to admit your feelings.
When you are nervous, you are nervous, you are not the only guy and maybe the coaches as well are a bit nervous. To be nervous you can use it to be on your best level. pressure is sometimes a huge boost, sometimes it’s a big back pack to carry. Just admit it. Some words maybe will help, but in general let’s be who we are and we are a strong group and we have a genuine trust and belief in what we do and we are capable if we do things together.
Tomorrow we will absolutely arrive together, everybody will be here to be a strong Chelsea group, to do the last step and win this cup.