The Bayern coach, who could reach a third Champions League final in five seasons, reveals his thoughts on a raft of subjects in this UEFA interview.
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Thomas Tuchel has tasted the highs and lows in the UEFA Champions League, having been a beaten finalist with Paris in 2020 before scooping the biggest prize in European club football with Chelsea a year later. The 50-year-old is now eyeing a hat-trick of final appearances, after taking the reins at Bayern in March.
In this interview with UEFA, Tuchel talks about his aspirations for the German champions, compares the Bundesliga and Premier League, and hails the mentality of forwards Harry Kane and Mathys Tel.
On the pressure and expectations at Bayern
When you feel the pressure, you know you are at a club who wants to win, where winning is part of the team's philosophy. We create a lot of the pressure ourselves. I do this, too. We always want to have the perfect training session, a perfect week of training and a perfect game. The expectations are extremely high. At Bayern, victories are expected and [must be] victories while playing attractive football and [scoring] a lot of goals. Sometimes you can't do it all but still, it's something positive and pressure is part of the game.
Everyone who competes at a high level in any sport would agree with that. You also have to ignore it from time to time and feel comfortable at work, at meetings, during training, when working with the team on the pitch. Then you begin to realise that the external pressure will never be greater than the pressure you put on yourself. I'm not 100% satisfied with how we are playing this season yet. We have still been very successful and we are finding ways to win games but we still have room for improvement. For me, we still haven't finished adapting yet.
On Bayern's Champions League group and the knockout stage
The competition is so tight now that the group stage is never easy anymore. I've never had an easy group stage. You have to be alert, wide awake and focused for 90 minutes on what you're doing. In a group with Galatasaray, Manchester United and Copenhagen, you can't allow yourself to make a single mistake, never mind two, so we are working on becoming more resilient and robust. We're well on the way to this. We have turned a few games around after falling behind. We didn't let it rattle us and we're developing a certain toughness in this competition.
Ultimately it should always be our goal to get to the quarter-finals. If you win your group, you get to play against a second-placed team in the round of 16. From then on, a lot of it is the luck of the draw. Over the past few years there have been huge differences in the quarter-finals. I think it makes a big difference whether you play against Manchester City or another club, because they are the benchmark at the moment. It's all a bit relative, of course, but first we want to get into the knockout stage and then continue along that route. If you have a bit of luck with the draw, any team that gets into the quarter-finals can win it.
On the difference between the Bundesliga and Premier League
The Premier League is more robust and demands even more from the players than the Bundesliga. That's certainly my impression. Mentally, physically and psychologically, it's at the highest level. That isn't necessarily an advantage for the English teams, however, because playing in that competition is extremely stressful and then they also have to play in Europe.
That's why the teams are expanding. The squads are getting larger, and they rotate a lot more than they did a few years ago. Since they have started doing that, however, the English teams have become very competitive. There has been a trend towards robustness. In the last final, Pep [Guardiola] played a flat back four with four centre-backs and Rodri in front of them. It was very physical, very robust with very strong tackling. It's an absolute necessity at this level.
On summer signing Harry Kane
He's more than talented, he's absolutely world-class. He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game. We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that for a while. He's a huge signing. Harry has made a super start and will get even better the longer he trains with us and once his family arrives too. When he feels at home here, we'll see his full potential.
He has a massive influence because you can't underestimate the fact that everybody has some influence. He is the first one on the training pitch and has a certain relaxed attitude. He has a certain personality, he loves training. And if you are such a great player, everything that you do has an impact. Everything that you do in the dressing room is observed: how you come across, how open you are, when you go out on to the pitch, how you train. With him everything is exemplary so it's just good to have him here.
On Mathys Tel's role and future
We consider [playing him for 90 minutes] every day, but the issue is that Mathys is handling this role [off the bench] so well at the moment that we don't want to just abandon this role either. It's very important to have someone who loves this role. And the team knows that when he comes on for half an hour or a quarter of an hour, he can change the game completely. He can give us energy; he can score the decisive goal. It's an extremely important role. If I let him play right from the start, I might be missing someone who can play this role with the same passion, dedication and quality. That's why it's a balancing act.
We will have to observe how long Mathys keeps up this positive energy, for this role as well. That's why we'll keep playing him from the start between games, but we have a lot of competition. He's 18 at the moment. It's a great role for him. He does it so well because he completely embraces it and leaves his ego on the sidelines. It's remarkable and that's why we're very happy.