Christian Pulisic believes Chelsea’s current style of play stands us in good stead for tonight’s Champions League semi-final first leg, as does the experience a young group of players gained in the competition last season.
Despite only being 22 years of age, the American is actually more accustomed to elite European football than most in the Chelsea squad. Should he play tonight, it will be his 34th Champions League appearance, and his fifth against Real Madrid.
Last season our run in the competition was emphatically ended in the round of 16 by Bayern Munich, with Pulisic unavailable for both legs. While we suffered two heavy defeats against the eventual winners, the American says it was an important part of the Blues’ learning curve.
‘The guys definitely gained that experience from last season, playing in the Champions League, a lot of them for the first time,’ he noted.
‘The next season you feel more prepared and a bit more confident and ready to go. That experience does help, and we are hoping we can take it into this game.’
Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have displayed European knowhow, looking streetwise and tactically adept against both Atletico Madrid and Porto.
‘We’ve been very strong at the back, very tough to break down, and we’ve been able to get good results in good moments,’ said Pulisic of our defensive resilience.
‘When the results are going well, not many questions can be asked about our style of play. Obviously it’s great to watch entertaining football all the time, attacking, free-flowing, this and that, but when it gets to this end of the season results are what matter.
‘We are going to do everything we can to be on the positive end of these games coming up.’
Recently, Real Madrid have sometimes deployed a back three, and it remains to be seen whether they will match up to our system tonight or stick with the four used against Liverpool in the quarter-finals.
‘As the game goes on we will see the way they play, and we will have to make adjustments or stick to our plan,’ reckons the 22-year-old.
‘I’m not too concerned about how they might line up. They have good players so it’s going to be a tough task for us whichever formation they might go out with.’
Pulisic is keen to point out Chelsea belong here, too, and he and his fellow Blues will be desperate to prove that tonight.