Can Thomas Tuchel Repeat Chelsea Champions League Feat With Bayern Munich?

Thomas Tuchel took over Chelsea midway through the 2020/21 season and won the Champions League
17:00, 24 Mar 2023

In January 2021, Thomas Tuchel rocked up at Stamford Bridge. Six months later, Chelsea were champions of Europe for the second time and the German boss was subsequently named FIFA's Best Football Coach that season. 

Just over two years later, another European giant has come calling in the hopes that Tuchel can inspire them to European success. This time, Bayern Munich have disposed of Julian Nagalsmann in favour of the former Chelsea boss - who was sacked by the Blues in favour of Graham Potter back in September. 

It comes as a shock when you consider that Nagelsmann was doing a decent job at Bayern, especially in the Champions League where he had conceded just two goals and knocked the star-studded PSG out in the last 16. But a Bundesliga defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend saw Bayern lose top spot domestically and, according to Fabrizio Romano, there was a real belief among the board that they had to act now to have a possibility of winning both the league and the Champions League this term. 


Tuchel was on the shortlist for Tottenham Hotspur to replace Antonio Conte and Real Madrid should Carlo Ancelotti take the Brazil job this summer - so the German giants felt they had to act decisively in order to beat their two competitors to the signing of Tuchel. But can he replicate the magic we saw in west London when he took over from Frank Lampard?

His first game after the international break doesn’t come any bigger. A home match in Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund in which the visitors could streak four points clear, or Bayern could get themselves back on top of the Bundesliga. The duo drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture as Anthony Modeste rescued a point in the 95th minute for Dortmund, and Bayern will be desperate to assert their superiority this time around. 

The Bayern squad should be able to respond to his methods, just as Chelsea were able to in 2021 when they beat Atletico Madrid, Porto, Real Madrid and Manchester City on their way to European glory. And the match-up against Pep Guardiola is worth focussing on, given Man City are Bayern’s quarter-final opponents in this year’s competition. 

At the end of his first half-season with Chelsea, Tuchel faced a triple header with Guardiola’s imperious City side. The Citizens won the league by 12 points from Manchester United that season and were the dominant force in English football, but Tuchel had a plan to beat them in all competitions.

First came the FA Cup semi-final at an empty Wembley Stadium due to the Coronavirus restrictions. In a 3-4-2-1 formation, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech combined for the only goal of the game and, in his first meeting with Guardiola, Tuchel ended City's quadruple hopes. 

The second meeting came in the Premier League and with the title all but wrapped up for City, this one was all about confidence ahead of the Champions League. Raheem Sterling scored the opener, before Sergio Aguero fluffed a Panenka penalty and Chelsea launched a comeback. Ziyech scored the equaliser before Marcos Alonso struck a 91st minute winner to hand City a rare home defeat. 

Both of those encounters turned out to be mere precursors for the Champions League final however. By this point, Tuchel was so deep inside Guardiola’s head that he forced him into a catastrophic error. The Spaniard didn’t pick a defensive midfielder in the final, instead choosing Ilkay Gundogan as a deep-lying playmaker and Phil Foden as the false nine. 

It never quite happened for Pep in Porto and Kai Havertz’s solitary goal was enough for Chelsea and Tuchel the last of three famous victories. City and Guardiola did record two 1-0 wins over the German before he was sacked as Chelsea manager, but that Champions League night still stings given City are still without a European trophy. 

The rematch in the quarter-finals this year will define both club’s seasons. Don’t bet against Tuchel getting in Pep’s head once again. 

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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