Thomas Tuchel’s champagne-soaked shoes hadn’t even begun to dry in Porto when the Chelsea head coach started looking at challenges ahead. This is the way for those at the very top: the greatest success is always the next one.
“Obviously, we have a strong group, a strong bond,” Tuchel said after the Champions League final when asked by football.london what this group of players could go on and achieve.
“They can defend as a unit, which is a huge part of football, and have answers to the questions in a game. They have huge energy and can deliver under pressure.
“The level is now set. When the celebrations are over and when we have digested this experience, it is the moment to evolve and to use it, to become better, to learn. It is absolutely crucial. We have young players, now it is a big challenge to stay hungry and go for the next one.”
The next one for Tuchel and his players is the UEFA Super Cup against Villarreal. That game is expected to be played on August 11 in Istanbul, just three days before the Blues’ Premier League campaign gets underway.
Chelsea have only lifted the Super Cup once, in 1998 when they overcame Real Madrid courtesy of a Gus Poyet goal. It would be nice to add another to the Blues’ collection.
Beyond that, however, is a chance to write more history for the young Chelsea squad. By lifting the Champions League trophy on Saturday after overcoming Man City, the Blues have, for only the second time, secured their place at the Club World Cup at the end of the year.
The competition, as things stand, is due to be held in Japan in December and will see Chelsea compete against the winners of Copa Libertadores, AFC Champions League, CAF Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League, OFC Champions League, and J1 League for the title of world champions.
Since the Club World Cup was reformed in 2005 only seven European sides have won the tournament: Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter, and AC Milan.
Chelsea had the chance to add their name to that rather illustrious list in 2012 just months after their victory in Munich. But the Blues, with Rafa Benitez at the helm, suffered a rather disappointing defeat to Brazilian side Corinthians in the final.
Perhaps the competition lacked a certain cache for that group of players. After all, the zenith for many of that squad was clinching the Champions League.
Supporters weren’t exactly left crushed by defeat out in Yokohama that year either, although it did mean the Blues are the only European side to have competed in the competition and now won it.
Yet things should be viewed a little differently now. The Club World Cup should be important to Chelsea.
Firstly, the obvious: being called world champions is certainly something to be desired. Secondly, it is the only major trophy missing from the honours board at Stamford Bridge. And thirdly, Blues supporters could happily chant, ‘We’ve won it all’ and know they are dealing in pure fact.
There’s also the fact the Club World Cup is going to grow in importance and prestige in the years ahead. As it stands, from 2022 it will be a 24-team tournament taking place across three weeks in China. There will be eight teams from Europe, made up of Champions League and Europa League winners, with a maximum of two clubs per country.