Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has heaped praised on Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side, insisting that the league leaders are the ‘benchmark’ that all other clubs are trying to reach.
The two clubs are set to do battle in the UEFA Champions League final at the end of the month, yet will play something of a dress rehearsal this weekend, the Blues looking to delay their opponents coronation as well as strengthen their own top-four hopes.
City are currently 13 points clear at the summit with just four games left to play, while Tuchel’s men are in fourth, just three points separating themselves and fifth-placed West Ham United, with a host of other sides waiting in the wings for the Blues to slip up.
Having been ninth when the former Paris Saint-Germain boss took charge in January after the departure of Frank Lampard, it would represent a real achievement to clinch a place a spot in the top-four, while they are also still capable of securing a cup double, the FA Cup and Champions League final’s on the horizon.
Although the north London club have arguably been the league’s form side since the German’s arrival, he’s insisted that there’s still a long way to go to reach City’s levels, despite getting the better of them in last month’s FA Cup semi-final.
“If you play against Pep you know that the most difficult game has arrived because he is the coach of the best team in Europe now,” said Tuchel at his pre-match press conference.
“They are the benchmark in the league, it’s a big gap but like we did in the FA semi-final, it is up to us to close the gap for 90 minutes and then we will do the same thing in the final.
“Against Pep the level is high and you need to be on your very best coaching level to push your team to full confidence and to hopefully play on the best level.”