Did you have an enjoyable day yesterday after Wednesday night’s win?
“Well, it was a nice morning on Thursday, to arrive and to see everybody happy at Cobham and enjoying the feeling after a big win. Then we started to organise things for the last week of the season that we have now, which is absolutely amazing and a big reward.
“It’s nice but at the same time, it’s already the second day [after the win over Real Madrid] and the it’s the to prepare the next Premier League match, to prepare the schedule for flights and so on for that. So the schedule keeps us busy.
There have been calls for the Champions League final to be played in England, do you understand those?
“I didn’t know there was an argument or discussion around it, I’m hearing that for the first time. Honestly, I play wherever it’s played. We should have played in Istanbul last season, instead, it was in Portugal. And now again the situation is pretty heavy in Turkey at the moment.
“I think anything can change quite rapidly these days. So let’s be open but at the moment we prepare for travel to Turkey.”
Would you support the game being played somewhere else?
“Support would mean I get involved in this and I do not get involved in these discussions or thoughts because I have enough to prepare myself and the team for the upcoming matches. And I have full trust in everybody who decides this to make a reasonable decision.
“It was like this when we were not quite sure where we would play against Porto in the first and second leg. That’s why I trust all the people at Chelsea involved in this, and others who will decide. I just at the moment prepare for the final.”
Is tomorrow’s game a chance to lay down a marker against Manchester City ahead of the Champions League final?
“I’m not so sure. There is possibility they can become champions if they win against us will not lower their ambitions and determination. They have one more day to recover, they don’t have to travel, and that gives them a bit the upper hand.
“We saw how crucial that can be these days when they arrived in Wembley for the [FA Cup] semi-final, because we had one more day, two games in London and they had to travel from Dortmund I think and then again to London for this game.
“I had the feeling on the sideline that gave us the upper hand. So now we have to deal with it. I think the final in Istanbul will be pretty unique no matter the score tomorrow, no matter if we win, they win, or if we draw.
“I think both teams will reflect enough that this one game in football and this special game in Istanbul can turn any result around that is the outcome tomorrow.
“So I try to prepare it in a normal way, the challenge right now is to get the tiredness out of our legs and brains and to refocus. The challenge is to be in good shape tomorrow, and then we’ll see.”
What are your emotions having reached the Champions League final again after last season’s defeat?
“In terms of revenge to be there again? No, I don’t have these feelings in me. It’s of course very satisfying on a personal level to be there again, but not because of what happened in December. I’m just absolutely grateful to arrive again in a Champions League final because it’s absolutely huge.
“I’m grateful to have the chance to work in football in general and at this kind of level, and super grateful for the people around me who push me, give me confidence and trust, and to have the challenge here in Chelsea feels so good from the first moment.
“To arrive with this club and team in Istanbul is a huge reward for me personally, but not in terms like I said of any revenge or extra satisfying that Paris [Saint-Germain] is not there.
“I am there, I don’t think in these terms, it’s always a team effort we try hard to like any team to have the biggest success. And it feels absolutely right where we are right now, and that’s what I am enjoying.
“So keep on going, I try to bring out the best in myself every day. We have two big finals now, and three big matches in the league.”
In Phil Foden and Mason Mount, do England have two great young players heading into this summer’s European Championships?
“They are an example of how good these young players can be, how good young players from England can be. They are the outstanding examples at the moment. I can’t speak for Phil Foden because he is not my player., but you can see clearly that he has the talent and desire to decide games at any moment at any level.
“He is a huge player and I get the impression that he is the same nice guy and character as Mason. For Mason, I said it many times. He is outstanding. He has the full package in terms of mentality, being humble, work ethic.
“Of course, with the national team, they can be very happy to rely on players who are at the highest level. Most importantly, they are hungry and humble. They behave exactly how you want players their age to behave. They want to learn, they want to get better, and it seems like they don’t feel the pressure which is pretty amazing.
“So we can be very happy before they arrive at the European Championships, they both want to have success for their teams which means they have to play against each other in the final.”
What emotions do you have when you come up against Pep Guardiola?
“First of all, when you play against Pep, you know the most difficult game has arrived because he has coached the best teams in Europe. He leaves his footprints and style of play, which is full of courage, flexibility and his teams are always super hungry to win. He transforms all his teams into winning machines.
“It was like this at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and it is the same with Man City. They are the benchmark in the league. Obviously, it is a big gap. It is on us, like in the semi-final, to close the gap for 90 minutes. We will do the same thing in the final and we will arrive at that final full of confidence because we have the feeling that we deserved to be there, we worked hard to be there.
“Once you arrive against Pep, the level is high and you need to be at your very best coaching level to push your team to their full confidence and play on their best level. They are used to winning and they are very, very regularly at the highest level. It is another big challenge tomorrow.”
What would success be for you this season, winning two finals and finishing in the top four?
“We will try exactly this [to achieve everything]. I can’t judge now any results higher than the other one because it doesn’t work like this. For me, it doesn’t work like this. Not at the youth level and not at the professional level of football that you judge your goals and make one more important than another. It simply doesn’t work like that.
“The reality is that you have to work hard every day. Keep your feet on the ground because if you arrive in a final it means you have won nothing yet. We don’t want to be participants in a final, we want to win it. This club isn’t about achieving finals, it’s about winning finals and football games. This is the target.
“We do well to keep our feet on the ground, keep our momentum going, keep the atmosphere which is built on hard work and determination but with the laughter every day. There’s a lot of respect and joy during the time that we spend together at Cobham. This is what we have to do.
“We have to focus on the process, not the results or the rewards at the end and determine success only by that. It would put us in a reactive position and we don’t want to be reactive. We want to work hard and earn the results. This is the challenge and we want to keep on going every day step by step.”
Will you be using the same tactics tomorrow that you used against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final?
“I’ve not decided yet. We have one day less to recover and we have an away game. One day less is quite the key factor in these times of the season so I can imagine that we maybe need fresh legs and minds tomorrow. Some hungry guys who deserve to show together that they have a chance in a big fixture.
“Tomorrow, if there will be new stuff tactically. I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. I have to look at everybody and see who is available and who is a bit overloaded. There is a high possibility that we will see some changes.”
There will be Chelsea fans at the last home game of the season against Leicester City, what are your thoughts on playing at Stamford Bridge with home supporters?
“I can’t wait. It’s actually so sad we’ve played so long without spectators that we’ve almost got used to it. We don’t want to get used to it because it changes the game completely. These are not just words, you simply can’t compare.
“With the guys waiting for us before and after the Madrid game, we were instantly so excited and so, so happy for them. We could feel the change of energy by having our supporters around, so it’s big news.
“We are absolutely excited to play with spectators at Wembley, after that at Stamford Bridge, then Aston Villa, and hopefully Istanbul. This is a step back to normality and I hope everyone stays safe in these matches because that is the most important. We will never complain but we can say as a fact that without the supporters it’s not the same game.”
How different do you imagine the three games – FA Cup semi-final, the Premier League clash and the Champions League final – against Man City will prove to be and does it feel good to be in the way of them winning two titles?
“It feels good because it means we are there. We had no favourites in terms of who we want to play [in the Champions League final] because we were only focused on us and having the chance to play in Istanbul.
“It was the same in the FA semi-final. We knew that they’re maybe the toughest opponent right now in Europe you can play and it was the target to close the game to City for 90 minutes. This is what you can do in football, you never want to accept in football there is a gap.
“When you play a team like City that is the benchmark in the league, you step up and try to close the gap for 90 minutes which is what we did at Wembley. Now comes the league game and they can be champions. They also have one more day of recovery which gives them a little bit. They will not lower their expectations and their ambition and determination.
“It’s a big challenge for us. But listen, it’s why we are here and everyone that plays for Chelsea tomorrow in my team will be fully focused and determined to get the best result possible. From there on we go. The big challenge is to now forget Wednesday as it won’t help us on the pitch.
“We need to think about our performance and what we put into this game. Forget the praise, the positive feedback, the result [from Wednesday]. We start again.”
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What’s the latest injury news and on Cesar Azpilicueta, how important has he been for you during your time at Chelsea?
“He is a huge factor and a key player for me at this club. He expresses everything that I think is typical for Chelsea. He is a fighter, a team player, he doesn’t accept limits, he’s always available, a top professional and a nice guy, and a guy who loves sport. He does everything to play at this level, he is very self-aware and self-reflective, it’s a pleasure to have him in the group.
“It was like this from the first moment, we had a strong connection. I met an honest and open young man who is super reliable on the pitch and who leaves his heart out there every time he is on the pitch. He is the captain, a true leader in his personal way and we are very happy he plays all the time because he deserves it with his mentality, mindset, and ambition.
“The injury list doesn’t change too much. We still have one training session to go. Kova (Mateo Kovacic) is out unfortunately still but we hope to bring him back for Arsenal and then hopefully for Wembley. It will be tight even for Arsenal but for tomorrow he is out. Everyone else is available.”