Thomas Tuchel says a top four finish is more important than FA Cup success for Chelsea as the club prepare to face Leicester in a huge clash this evening.
Chelsea host top-four rivals Leicester at Stamford Bridge tonight with the two sides separated by just two points in the Premier League, ahead of the final two games of the campaign.
The fixture comes just three days after Leicester beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Wembley, Youri Tielemans’ stunning goal giving the Foxes their first-ever victory in the competition.
Tuchel admits that the cup final defeat was difficult to take and says Chelsea did all they can to secure major silverware, but admits securing Champions League qualification is more important to the west Londoners and was his main objective when succeeding Frank Lampard in January.
“It would look like I am a bad loser if I say yes,” Tuchel told his pre-match press conference when asked if a top four finish was more important than cup success.
“I am not a good loser but I want to be a respectful loser and I am not here to play the match down because of financial reasons. We lost a big match, it was a huge match for us, we put out the best team possible. We did not rest anybody because we had the feeling that this game tomorrow is more important.
“But there is a but. Do we want to play Champions League next season? Yes, this is the target when I stepped into this club. I want to be very clear – the task was: ‘Let’s try everything to be in the top four.’ The task was not: ‘Let’s try everything to win the FA Cup’ because the FA Cup, as big as it is, does not bring you to Champions League football next season. It’s top four that brings us that.
“Tomorrow is another huge game but, like I said, this game was big for us. It was a final. Once you can collect silverware you try everything because simply out of respect. And me and the players – be very sure about this – think zero about how much money we earn. This is not in our heads.”
Tuchel also criticised the scheduling of the game with the final round of Premier League fixtures not until Sunday, questioning why the high-stakes fixture couldn’t be played on Wednesday given the duo’s involvement in the cup final.
“We never understood this and we said before that we could not understand because both teams are involved and it would have been easier for both teams to have had a Wednesday game because the next game is Sunday,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason to play Saturday, Tuesday, Sunday. It is absolutely logical to play the game on Wednesday. From a sporting side nobody can disagree. But, OK, we cannot wish for another date to play so we will be ready tomorrow.”
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