Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea face a season-defining week after admitting the U.K government sanctions are affecting the club’s ability to close the gap on Liverpool.
The Blues lost the FA Cup Final to Liverpool 6-5 on penalties after 120 goalless minutes at Wembley as Cesar Azpilicueta and Mason Mount missed in the shootout.
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Chelsea will secure a third-place finish in the Premier League if they win one of their remaining two games — against Leicester on Thursday and Watford on the final day — but despite already picking up the UEFA Super Club and the FIFA Club World Cup, Tuchel admitted the jury is still out on whether this campaign has been a success.
“[The view of the season] heavily depends on what we do in next two games and where we end up,” said the Blues head coach.
“Then I will give you my honest opinion about it. I think we reach now consecutive domestic finals, we reached the FA Cup final last year. I will not promise you any victories, but I promise we can deliver is input, heart, passion and commitment, living up to the fullest to have no regrets.
“This is what we do and we will not stop in doing it. They have an awful lot to play for, they are in this kind of spirit where everybody is available. They are very, very consistent. We are the opposite at the moment given the sanctions. Players are leaving.”
Chelsea will lose Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid on a free transfer this summer while Andreas Christensen is also expected to depart having turned down an offer to stay prior to sanctions blocking any further contract negotiations.
The club’s inability to negotiate while Roman Abramovich remains owner is also preventing them speaking to prospective summer targets and Tuchel suggested this will make it harder to close the gap to Liverpool after four consecutive draws against Klopp’s side over the course of the season.
“We proved four times this season that we can produce peak performances to compete with them,” he said. “All the results were deserved and could have gone in our way but could have gone their way.
“The difference for me at the moment throughout the season is they can do it on Wednesday again and then Saturday, Wednesday again. We struggle. They have a bigger squad available.
“They arrive with everybody except Fabinho fresh and in a rhythm. In a final like this, we have three or four players out. N’Golo Kante had one training session at 50 per cent intensity. Mateo Kovacic played with an ankle — I didn’t know this was possible [with] an ankle — that couldn’t fit into a shoe.
“This is what it is and this is where the gap comes from. They can produce these performance more often. They built this team for many years now and this is where the gap is. The sanctions didn’t make it easier for us to close it. They will not make it easier.”