Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel takes on Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola at Wembley on Saturday, seven years after sitting at the dinner table moving salt and pepper pots around demonstrating tactics awhile discussing Lionel Messi in a Munich restaurant.
The Chelsea boss will now get to show his Manchester City counterpart what he learned from that dining discussion when he moves his players, instead of salt and pepper shakers, around the Wembley pitch later today.
Tuchel candidly admits to being a student of the Guardiola school of thought, saying that the Spaniard offered him advice regularly when they both managers in the Bundesliga. And it was at dinner in a Munich restaurant seven years ago that gave the German a real insight into the highly-revered manager’s methods.
Tuchel said: “We had dinner and if you go out with Pep, why not talk about football? What else is there to talk about for me? For me he was a huge influence.
“We started to talk about tactics and it was nice. It was about positions on the field and what he did with Barcelona.
“He explained it to me and we had some drawings that we used on the table to go through the positions and the tactical situations on the field.
“We were talking about how he changed Barcelona when he bought Cesc Fabregas and what changed with the team and how to play Lionel Messi as a ‘false nine’ and how to create spaces, playing with a back three and a back four.
“Just two coaches talking normal stuff. We used what was on the table and sometimes it’s easier to explain a formation when you use something.”
Despite having faced Guardiola five times as a manager, the German had never beaten the renowned Spaniard, and claims there is no greater challenge.
He said: “It’s not the ultimate test but it’s the highest level. Bayern Munich with Hansi Flick and City with Pep are the benchmark.
“When Pep was at Bayern, almost every game was a lesson for me. Later I had the opportunity to play against him. It was not always a pleasure.
“We have to accept there is a gap. But we truly believe we can close the gap for one game. We are absolutely confident we have a chance to win this game.”