Thomas Tuchel looks beyond Pep Guardiola rivalry with Chelsea prepared to ‘suffer’ against Man City
Chelsea manager Tuchel can become the first coach to inflict four defeats in a row on City supremo Guardiola, when the sides meet in Premier League action at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The hosts could create a six-point gap on Premier League champions City with victory this weekend, but Tuchel has been at pains to downplay the impact of the managerial tussle.
Before his three wins over Guardiola and City that culminated with the Champions League final, Tuchel had lost to the ex-Barcelona boss four times on the spin – a statistic not lost on the Chelsea chief.
“Not so long ago there were a lot of voices who told me I don’t know how to beat Pep, so!” said Tuchel.
“Anyway it’s not between me and him, we don’t play a match of tennis or a match of chess tomorrow.
“It’s two teams and clubs that compete against each other on a very high level.
“If I look at it honestly, I see three 50-50 matches in the last three games, and I’m not only talking about the situation before the match, but during the matches too.
“It could have been any outcome. Once you have 50-50 matches little details decide, small situations can give you the advantage and you need a bit of luck.
“So it felt totally 50-50, even in the review. And I expect nothing other than a 50-50 match tomorrow.
“And we want to fight hard to be the guys with the better outcome.
“We’ve done it several times now with this club, but we know what the input was, we know how much we suffered in these matches. And that’s what we expect tomorrow.”
Mason Mount will miss out for Chelsea due to a minor knock, but Edouard Mendy will return in goal having shaken off a hip complaint.
When quizzed if his three wins over Guardiola make him, at this point, the better coach, Tuchel replied: “This question does not even exist for me.
“And because it doesn’t exist for me I cannot answer it.
“I have the highest respect for Pep, because I’m a huge admirer of the impact he had from his first day of professional coaching. The impact he had at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at Manchester City.
“This is something I hugely admire and this will never change. Look at the trophies, look at the influence.
“There is absolutely no reason why I should start to ask myself whether I’m a better coach or not.
“I do the best I can, I’m in a place right now where I’m very happy.
I do the best I can, I'm in a place right now where I'm very happy
“I’m a better coach today than I was yesterday and that’s all that matters.
“I need experience, I’m grateful to have this amount of support at this club to cover my back and push me to my limits, and from there on we go.
“I’m very happy I have the possibility to fight to that level, for both my team and my club, and this is what matters.”
Admitting at least to a psychological boost from those three wins over City, Tuchel added: “Well, we have the positive experiences and we know how tough it feels at half-time in the dressing room and what kind of input was needed.
“You have to really work hard for it, really have to earn it, and don’t forget you need momentum and luck.
“But yes, genuine belief that you can do it is the most important thing in sport. And on this level we have the belief we can do it.
“We know what it takes to have the possibility to win. We have the feeling it does not take a miracle to win against Manchester City, but it’s absolutely necessary that we bring out the best performance.
“So this is though enough. It’s one of the biggest tests in European football.”