Chelsea’s path to the Champions League final: How the Blues got there under Thomas Tuchel (and Frank Lampard)


Chelsea is the only team in London to have won a Champions League final, and they could be about to get their second on Saturday when they take on Manchester City in Porto. The all-English final is set for 3 p.m. ET at the Estadio do Dragao, and you can see it on CBS and Paramount+

The Blues, struggling to find consistency under Frank Lampard earlier in the year, made the change to Thomas Tuchel, and it’s paid off in a huge way. The German manager, who took PSG to the final last season, has installed a system that has turned the team’s defense into an elite — and at times unbreakable — unit regularly producing clean sheets. While the attack leaves plenty to be desired at times due to the inconsistency of Timo Werner and others, the potential is there to take home the crown after already proving this season that they can beat Pep Guardiola and company.

But how exactly did Chelsea get to this point? Here’s a recap of their path to the final.

Qualification

Chelsea finished in the top four in the Premier League in the 2019-20 season to earn direct qualification to the group stage. 

Draw

The draw saw the Blues receive the most favorable of matchups, going into Group E with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes.  

Group stage results

  • Matchday 1: Chelsea 0, Sevilla 0
  • Matchday 2: Chelsea 4, Krasnodar 0
  • Matchday 3: Chelsea 3, Rennes 0
  • Matchday 4: Chelsea 2,  Rennes 1
  • Matchday 5: Chelsea 4, Sevilla 0
  • Matchday 6: Chelsea 1, Krasnodar 1

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Round of 16 results

First leg: Chelsea 1, Atletico Madrid 0

Despite having first-place locked up in the group, Lampard would get sacked 48 days after the Krasnodar group-stage finale and Tuchel was sign a day later, with roughly a month to prepare for the first leg of the round of 16.  

Nobody wants to play Atletico in the knockout stages due to the pressure they are able to apply, but the Blues were able to weather the storm in the first leg thanks to the magical goal Olivier Giroud produced at the National Arena in Bucharest after the game was moved out of Spain due to the pandemic. 

Atleti didn’t produce a single shot on target as the Blues’ defense thrived on a team that just wasn’t all there that day, taking home a quality result that put them on the brink of the quarters.

Second leg: Chelsea 2, Atletico Madrid 0

The Spanish champs actually got four shots on goal in this one, but like so many teams against this Chelsea defense, they had nothing to show for it. A goal from Hakim Ziyech in the first half put the Blues in a great spot, and it was essentially over when Stefan Savic was shown a red card with nine minutes to go in regulation. 

Emerson Palmieri then came off the bench and scored seconds later to wrap this one up.

Quarterfinal results

First leg: Chelsea 2, Porto 0

Strangely enough, had this match been played at Porto, it would have been at the site of Saturday’s final. Instead, both legs were moved to Sevilla due to the travel restrictions in place. And the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan had been kind to the Blues in the group stage with Tuchel’s team beating Sevilla there, 4-0. 

The score was different here, and it was far from a dominant performance, but Chelsea were efficient, producing three shots on goal and finishing two. Mason Mount scored a stunning goal and Ben Chilwell added one late to pretty much wrap up this tie.

Second leg: Porto 1, Chelsea 0

Don’t let the result deceive you: Chelsea were always in control. A late goal from Porto made for an interesting score, but Porto had next to no chance late on as the Blues controlled the ball, focused on their defending a looked to play mistake-free. 

Semifinal results

First leg: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 1

Going to face Real Madrid is never easy, but with Los Blancos dealing with so many injury issues and struggling to find help in attack for Karim Benzema, the Blues went on the road and got a favorable result. It was American Christian Pulisic who scored the opener to give his side a crucial away goal, putting the Londoners on the brink of the final. Benzema’s second-half goal kept this close entering the second leg under the lights at Stamford Bridge.

Second leg: Chelsea 2, Real Madrid 0 

It was a convincing performance from Chelsea as the defense excelled and the attack picked its moments as Timo Werner and Mason Mount both scored to emphatically send the Blues through to the final. Real produced just seven shots, while Chelsea had 15. Los Blancos controlled the ball for the majority of the match, but that was fine for the hosts as they sat back, defended well and looked to spring forward on the counter.

The result meant Chelsea were into the UCL final for the third time in their club’s history. 





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