Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted he admonished his players after a five-day period in which they were beaten twice at home and conceded seven times in the process.
The Blues were thrashed 4-1 by Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday before slipping to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final first leg four days later.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of travelling to Southampton back in domestic action on Saturday, Tuchel revealed that his players’ shortcomings had been pointed out in a meeting and insisted Chelsea could not take a third-placed finish for granted.
“It was not a discussion type of meeting, I gave my point of view,” he said, smiling.
“We take the players’ view very seriously and into account but over the last two games we thought it necessary to give our point of view – but behind closed doors where everyone can take criticism.
“We don’t point fingers, we don’t look for people who are guilty, we’re in this together but we needed to point out things in our game where we could have defended better. The offensive principles in our game, what we lacked doing.
“Surprisingly we lacked structure in our last game. Then we lacked the rhythm and repetition of our attacks, the positional discipline in attacking. We lacked intensity and investment in our defending.
“It’s very untypical of us. We had a look into it, talked to the team about it. We need to stop this kind of direction as soon as possible. And the best possibility is tomorrow [Saturday].
“It’s not like us to defend like this and concede so many goals. We didn’t see it coming because it wasn’t the case before the international break. It’s not easy to deal with because it doesn’t fit into a pattern.”
The German also bemoaned a missed “huge opportunity” in the defeat to Los Blancos in midweek.
“We had a defeat against Liverpool and I was disappointed by the result but we were absolutely delighted with how we played, what a match it was,” he continued. “So the feeling the next day was very different to Brentford and Real Madrid.
“I felt like we gave a huge opportunity away [against Real Madrid]. It’s not normal to play quarter-finals in the Champions League. A huge night against a huge opponent and we did not bring our best level.
“So that’s why we were disappointed and angry. After the match I was not so good in hiding my emotions but I know how much better we can play, how untypical mistakes and the performances were for us.”
Tuchel also urged his team not to get complacent in their pursuit of a third-place finish in the Premier League, with Tottenham moving up to fourth and closing the gap to them over the weekend.
“I’m absolutely confident [Chelsea can finish third] but not as a given,” he said.
“We know how we have struggled through the season. I still feel the team can play on very high level but if we don’t reach it we can lose to teams of any quality. We proved that in the last five days. That’s a reminder to us.
“We should not be ashamed to fight for third place. It’s a tough competition until the very last day. Do I feel confident? Yes because I have trust in my players and staff. But is it a given? No.”