Thomas Tuchel focused on on-field success as Chelsea advance in Champions League

The Blues beat Lille 4-1 on aggregate.

By Press Association Published: 16 March 2022 - 11.45pm

Thomas Tuchel had to fight to protect his buoyant mood after seeing Chelsea reach the Champions League quarter-finals when told of potential future fan absences facing the Blues.

Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta netted to send the defending champions into the Champions League last eight with a 4-1 aggregate win over Lille.

Burak Yilmaz fired a penalty for Lille at a raucous Stade Pierre Mauroy but Chelsea hit back to power through after a 2-1 victory on the night in France.

Roman Abramovich’s UK and now EU sanctions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue to bite hard for the Blues, who cannot sell any new tickets to supporters.

Now UEFA expect Chelsea will not be able to have any fans at future Champions League matches while Abramovich is the club’s owner.

Chelsea’s sale continues to move apace, and the Stamford Bridge club could even have a new owner by the Champions League’s April quarter-finals.

A new face in the owner’s seat would alleviate the threat of behind-closed-doors matches, but Tuchel was in no mood to speculate after Chelsea’s win in France.

When asked about the prospect of playing without fans, Tuchel replied: “Thanks for ruining my evening!

“Today I'm happy that we are in the last eight. There were a lot of things to overcome, so I'm so happy and so proud”
- Thomas Tuchel

“I was in such a good mood, can we speak about it when it’s confirmed? Let’s wait for the confirmation of the confirmation.

“Let’s see, today I’m happy that we are in the last eight.

“There were a lot of things to overcome, so I’m so happy and so proud.

“So let’s see. It’s the first thing I hear now.

“In three days we play Middlesbrough in the cup, then we have the national break, and then I’ll think about a good answer.

Cesar Azpilicueta
Cesar Azpilicueta scored the winner (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

“The fans are outside right now and it was brilliant to be with them.”

Tuchel appeared as emotional and proud as he has been in his time as Chelsea boss, even including the Champions League and Club World Cup final victories.

The German coach saluted Chelsea’s travelling supporters with a fist pump and a slap of his chest.

Chelsea’s sale and Abramovich’s sanctions might have destabilised matters at the west London club, but Tuchel and his team continue to impress under the greatest of football stresses.

Chelsea continue to lobby the Government over relaxations to the strict operating licence, with travel cost limits understood to have been raised specifically for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final trip to Middlesbrough.

Chelsea are still unable to sell new tickets for that trip to Boro, and the club issued and later withdrew a statement questioning the competition’s integrity amid those blocks.

Tuchel admitted his relief that the Blues had withdrawn that statement, adding: “Let me put it like this, we love to play in front of spectators. And I don’t think that spectators for opponents should suffer from the consequences.

“So I think the proposal was withdrawn and it was absolutely the right thing to do, because that was from our side and hopefully it was not meant like this.

“It was not the very best idea to put it like this. We love to play in front of spectators.

“Me and the team were not involved in this decision and I’m happy that it was withdrawn, very happy.”

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.