Depending on how the current UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and then semifinals end up, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel could come up against former club Paris Saint-Germain within the same season that he was dismissed by the French capital outfit.
The German was sacked by PSG at the start of the winter break in late December of 2020, just days before Christmas, but was back in the game just a month later with the Blues after replacing Frank Lampard in the dugout.
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Tuchel has enjoyed a strong start to life with Chelsea and boasted 10 wins across all competitions with four draws before last weekend’s shock 5-2 Premier League defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion but admitted to Sky Deutschland that the end of his Parisien experience hurt.
“I felt it for the first time during a conversation with (PSG sporting director) Leonardo on the evening of December 22,” said the 47-year-old of his firing. “I felt then that it was a possibility but also that it did not seem real.
“There was another conversation on December 23 before the Strasbourg game and then a two-minute conversation after we won 4-0. I got up, told him to sort it out and left as there was nothing really left to say. We emptied the office and went home for Christmas.”
Tuchel confessed that it was a difficult festive period for him and his family, but that Chelsea were already on the former Borussia Dortmund boss’ radar and that the decision had been taken to move to London — if the opportunity materialized which it did in swift fashion.
“It was not pleasant for my family and me,” the man from Krumbach explained. “It was odd. We had heard about Chelsea’s interest and I thought that I would give it a go. There was no time to think, to be afraid or to hesitate.
“Perhaps it was best that way. The structure here suits me perfectly. It is a dream to be in competition with the best teams and coaches. It is what you dream of and it is an amazing feeling now that it has come true.”
Tuchel has been reunited with former PSG captain Thiago Silva at Stamford Bridge and although the 36-year-old Brazil international was sent off in the West Brom defeat, the pair have brought some of their chemistry from their Parc des Princes days together.
Silva, also a former FC Porto player, will be key for Chelsea against the Portuguese in Seville this Wednesday and potentially next Tuesday as well and Real Madrid are the early favorites to be waiting for the winner in the semi-finals after a 3-1 first leg success over Liverpool.
Should the Londoners overcome Porto and then Real or Liverpool, a final against PSG is a possibility — even if it requires Bayern Munich and then one of Manchester City or Dortmund to be disposed of in order for an Istanbul reunion with Tuchel.
Such a matchup would give him the opportunity to have the last laugh over Leonardo and PSG who continue to have a difficult season under successor Mauricio Pochettino but appear to remain capable of producing their best performances on the continental stage this campaign.
Together, Tuchel and PSG navigated a difficult group stage with a string of victories over RB Leipzig, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir ensuring top spot in Group H after a slow start that saw the Ligue 1 giants beaten at home by United and away at Leipzig.
In the round of 16, Chelsea advanced past La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid relatively comfortably with a 3-0 aggregate victory, but Porto are no easy quarterfinal draw having knocked out Italian giants Juventus 4-4 on away goals after a thrilling return leg in Turin.
The West Brom loss was disappointing for Tuchel and his players but otherwise they are riding on the crest of a wave of confidence since his arrival that has seen them climb into European qualification contention which had looked complicated under Lampard.
There remain issues to be solved, notably how to get the best out of big money signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, but Tuchel has already established a solid base from which he can sculpt this Chelsea side and reunion with PSG would be the cherry on what is an already appetizing cake.