Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel accepts his team will be up against Europe’s “benchmark” side when they bid to end Manchester City’s quest for an unprecedented quadruple in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.
The two teams will meet in the first of the last-four ties in a 1730 kick-off at Wembley, with the winners taking on either Leicester or Southampton in the final on May 15.
City also boast a healthy lead at the top of the Premier League, are through to the last four of the Champions League and will be back at the national stadium the following weekend for their Carabao Cup final against Tottenham.
Tuchel, who will be taking charge of a match at Wembley for the first time and chasing a first managerial win over Pep Guardiola, admits a “gap” exists between the two teams but believes his men can triumph in a one-off game.
“We have to admit there is a gap but for 90 minutes we are very self-aware and very self-confident that we believe we can close the gap…for one game,” he said.
“And this is the target for (Saturday).
“I arrive happy to compete against the benchmark in England and Europe.
I arrive happy to compete against the benchmark in England and EuropeThomas Tuchel on taking on Manchester City
“We want the momentum of football on our side, and to play at the top level it’s not to force things, and we’ll need a bit of luck.”
Guardiola has urged his players to embrace the pressure of their quadruple bid.
“It is a privilege,” said the Spaniard.
“Tough? It’s completely the opposite. It’s the best part of the season and the best part of their careers. It doesn’t matter (if we) win or lose, it is still the best moment.
“Do it with a smile. We are not tired. If you are tired, you don’t like this game.
“But at the same time as being a privilege I know right now we could finish without a title. I have a feeling (Manchester) United are in top form and you have to win games to win the Premier League.
“Everyone says it is impossible but in football anything can happen. We could lose four or five games in a row. In football it can happen.”
Chelsea will be without Mateo Kovacic, who has hamstring trouble, but N’Golo Kante is fit, while Guardiola has confirmed number two goalkeeper Zack Steffen will play in place of Ederson.