Football: Top-four spot will ease pressure before Champions League final, says Tuchel

Tuchel (far left) applauds the fans after a Chelsea match against Leicester City. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel wants his side to secure Champions League qualification in their final Premier League game against Aston Villa to avoid added pressure going into the European final on May 29.

Third-placed Chelsea are a point above Liverpool and Leicester City going into Sunday's final games and a win at Villa Park will guarantee Chelsea a top-four finish before the Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto.

However, a fifth-placed finish will see Chelsea drop down to the Europa League unless they beat City in the final to qualify for Europe's top tier competition.

"We will play 100 per cent, no matter what, to win," Tuchel told a news conference on Friday (May 21).

"The side effect could be a crucial one but we don't want to play this final to (qualify for) the Champions League.

"We put in so much hard work, quality into the last months. We want to finish the game on Sunday... But I don't think that when we arrive for the Champions League final that it would be in our heads to make it into the Champions League next season."

Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard midway through the season, said the top four was their main target and a hectic schedule only made it harder for them to achieve that goal.

"Having a busy schedule made it harder. We had so many games and a tight schedule," Tuchel added.

"It was a complicated situation to reach the (FA Cup) final, go back to top-four race, then a semi-final in the Champions League.

"There are so many competitions and so many levels in these competitions. So it demanded a lot of different levels of concentration for us. It's what we worked for and it's still in our hands."

Tuchel said N'Golo Kante and Kai Havertz could feature against Villa subject to a late fitness test while centre back Andreas Christensen, who missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, is back in the squad.

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