The games are coming thick and fast for Chelsea as the season draws to a close – but Thomas Tuchel feels their hectic run-in can pay dividends on their big upcoming night in Porto.
After dejection in the FA Cup final last week, the Blues enacted revenge on Leicester to get within touching distance of a Champions League spot next season.
A win at Villa Park on Sunday would see Chelsea qualify for the competition again for 2021/22, and release a little of the pressure on his players heading into their clash with City on May 29.
However, Tuchel insists it is that same tension which will bring the best out of him and his players when it counts.
The Chelsea boss said: “You get absolutely focused, absolutely sharp when the kind of pressure that we have now is on.
“These last two matches for us – against Leicester and now Aston Villa – even if the pressure was on before, they ARE different. The situation is so clear now.
“It brings you to the edge. It brings you out of bed early. You think twice and become sharp. That’s what I demand of myself – to deliver under pressure.”
It’s these kind of situations that the Blues appear to live for – a quality he takes delight in witnessing from his players.
“I like that our team delivers under pressure consistently, with top performances. This is what is needed now,” he added.
“We’ve got ourselves into this situation, which is a very positive thing. Everybody would have loved this situation in January.
“Everybody is calm and well aware of what is needed.
“We have full respect for Aston Villa and their quality – and for the Premier League and away games, in general.
“So we need the best that we can be – and this clearly includes the manager.”
Tuchel has certainly done an expert job of guiding his side to this point so far, losing just four of his 28 matches in charge since his appointment in January.
Along the way Chelsea have twice beaten next Saturday’s opponents at the Estadio do Dragao, Man City, though his adversary Pep Guardiola does have the luxury of being able to rest his troops for their own domestic season finale against Everton, with the title already in the bag.
But asked whether he would rather be in a position to rotate this weekend, Tuchel saw both sides of the coin.
“Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that we want them in the final and don’t want any injuries. We almost had that with Mason [Mount] and Ben Chilwell against Leicester.
“But also, no. If we were qualified for the Champions League already, you can lose energy by having a rest.
“You can also overthink this. Who to leave out? Who needs a rest? You don’t know if they can pick up that top momentum again. That can be a problem. So if you ask me, I prefer to keep going until the very end.
“I think doing that is an advantage going into the Champions League Final. You have fought constantly and you don’t want to lose the rhythm.”