Former Chelsea star Joe Cole has backed the Blues’ homegrown players to produce in the Champions League final against Manchester City, especially as he believes all the pressure will be on Pep Guardiola’s side in Porto.
Thomas Tuchel and his squad will compete for the biggest prize in European football tomorrow night, something which very few Chelsea supporters could have envisaged when the German coach took charge at the end of January.
The transformation overseen by the 47-year-old has been dramatic. Tuchel has masterminded victories over fellow coaches Diego Simeone, Zinedine Zidane, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, and Carlo Ancelotti.
Guardiola and his City team have also been overcome twice by Tuchel’s Chelsea. That is something that will give the Blues confidence ahead of the clash at the Estadio do Dragao.
Chelsea go into the Champions League final, however, as underdogs. And Cole, who made 281 appearances for the Blues, believes that will prove beneficial for Tuchel and his players.
“Where Chelsea and Man City are at the moment, the pressure is on Man City,” he told football.london.
“You can see they are the better side over the course of 38 games but the club are so hell-bent on winning this trophy [the Champions League] that the pressure is always mounting.
“For Chelsea, you’ve got young players happy to be there in the sense that it wasn’t expected this year. This was a transitional period. But they can go out there and win the game with talent all over the park. That is where I think the psychology of the game will be.”
Tuchel will have a fully fit squad from which to select his side for the game. There will one of two dilemmas to solve but the majority of the starting XI picks itself.
Academy graduates Mason Mount and Reece James are almost certain to start. Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjorin, all of whom were also schooled at Cobham, may also be in the 23-man squad.
Cole has firsthand experience of working with Chelsea’s homegrown stars – the former winger returned to the club in 2019 as a technical academy coach.
He believes that the Blues’ own will have no problem handling the pressure of the Champions League final, a game which he says is a “privilege” to play in.
“Chelsea as a club has moved on so much [since my time as a player],” Cole said. “The academy, in particular, is producing these outstanding players.
“The club strives to develop not just young footballers, but young men capable of stepping out into the biggest arenas.
“All the young players that come through the academy, I’ve got no worries that they’ll deal with the occasion admirably. They’re used to it, they’ve been schooled in that right the way through.”