He is already one of only two managers to have beaten Pep Guardiola in three consecutive matches.
The Chelsea boss never beat Guardiola when they both worked in Germany, but followed in Jurgen Klopp’s footsteps soon after arriving at Stamford Bridge when he claimed three wins in three different competitions in the six weeks at the end of last season.
Tuchel’s latest triumph, in the Champions League final, was by far the most significant of those successes, and came after a supposed over-thinking from his counterpart saw him tinker with the tactics that had just delivered his last Premier League title.
So what did Guardiola put up his sleeve this time? And, with Chelsea at the top of the table and already in great form, how important is it to him and Manchester City that he pulls this one off?
“That’s all everyone at City is talking about,” said former midfielder Michael Brown, who will be at Stamford Bridge for Radio 5 live.
“I was working on their Carabao Cup win over Wycombe at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday and whether it was fans, other former players or people in general they were all saying ‘what will Pep do this weekend and will be something different new? ‘
“It shows where he and the club are at. Everyone is judged by Pep losing games – whoever gets a result against him is great news.
“He’s the only manager in the world where, if he’s beaten, everyone looks at every little thing that could explain why it happened.”
“The two best tactical operators in the game”
Tuchel does not yet have the same scalp as the Spaniard, but his approach to Saturday will also be the subject of close scrutiny. After all, he has done little harm since arriving in England in January and, having conquered Europe, his team are currently at the top of the national standings.
Like Guardiola, his adaptability is key to his continued success.
“The most interesting thing for me about Tuchel this season is that I think he is abandoning the 3-4-3 system that allowed Chelsea to advance to the Champions League final and earned him this match, “former Chelsea winger and BBC expert Pat Nevin said.
“They started to look more like a 3-5-2 form, with Kai Havertz or Timo Werner getting a lot closer to Romelu Lukaku. It works well when you have N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic behind them in the middle of ground.
“Of course, Tuchel can always come back to his old roster whenever he wants, even during a game. I’m lucky to be there on Saturday and will be watching technical changes in the game as closely as I will be watching skills on. field.
“Tuchel and Guardiola are basically the two best tactical operators in the game right now when it comes to reading a game, reacting to what’s going on and affecting it.
“At the moment Tuchel’s decision-making is excellent and seems to make the difference very quickly. Against Spurs last week, bringing N’Golo Kante in at halftime was a complete game-changer.
“But he’s up against Pep again now and it’s a game of chess above all the others. He won the last one but, to be honest, Guardiola toppled his own queen early on with his team selection. That day.
“So Tuchel doesn’t have his number exactly but I don’t think he is afraid of Pep, while I think a lot of others are afraid of his enormous footballing intelligence.”
Tuchel is still trailing 4-3 in one-on-one encounters with Guardiola, but his recent run is just one of the reasons the fear factor in those matches may have diminished – he also has internal knowledge.
“There is an incredible story of Pep meeting Tuchel in Munich in 2014 when he was a promising young manager and had just left Mainz,” Brown explained.
“Tuchel says what they talked about over dinner was how to play a false nine, especially in the bigger games.
“Tuchel took all this information, he was like a sponge. So, did Pep tell him how he does it? If so, how does he then change it if Tuchel knows about the plan, or has it just need to do the best?
What will Guardiola do next?
A false nine is part of Guardiola’s options on Saturday but he did something different each time he faced Tuchel last season, without finding a winning formula.
As he rested the players in the FA Cup semi-finals and changed his formation from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 when they met in the league, his most infamous adjustment came in Porto, on the biggest scene of all.
Trying to find a way to break a Chelsea side who like now are giving very little, Guardiola decided not to use a starting midfielder in the Champions League final.
It was a bold plan, and it backfired. As Nevin says, Chelsea were soon mate and checkmate in this particular game of chess – but what will Guardiola’s next move be now that they’re back on the board?
“Pep was brave in Portugal and wanted to dominate possession and put his midfielders on the ball at the top of the pitch,” said Brown.
“That’s why he gutted that starting role, because he thought Ilkay Gundogan could go higher as well, but it didn’t work – Chelsea’s counterattack was just too good.
“Being away from home on Saturday, however, he will surely be considering a starting midfielder, be it Fernandinho or Rodri.
“Further down the pitch he could use Ferran Torres as a more traditional center forward playing on the shoulder of Chelsea center-backs.
“In terms of form he might have been tempted to come back with three center-backs, as I thought they were the better team when they played that way against Tuchel’s Chelsea in the league, but availability will govern the selection and Pep’s training this time.
“You look at the center-back area and both John Stones and Aymeric Laporte have been injured. Playing either one can be a risk, so sticking to back four is probably reasonable.
“He also knows that City have three huge games this week – they’re at Paris St-Germain on Tuesday and then at Liverpool next Sunday.
“It could affect his selection as well, but I think his approach will be to focus on this game. He knows it will be difficult, but he won’t be afraid of Chelsea – City will do everything to beat them on Saturday and then will fit from there. “
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