Tuchel will give Pep a run for his money: Richard Buxton
German's first 100 days as Chelsea manager have been a remarkable success
Thomas Tuchel is making a compelling case for upstaging Pep Guardiola this season.
As Manchester City's manager zones in on a potential treble, his Chelsea counterpart continues to display his Midas touch with a team practically written off at the turn of the year.
Their English Premier League meeting at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday morning (Singapore time) - an early dress rehearsal for this month's Champions League final - also doubles as an intriguing personal contest between two managers at the peak of their respective powers.
Ordinarily, Guardiola's body of work would be enough to win him the Manager of the Year accolade virtually unchallenged, having taken the EPL champions-elect from mid-table middling to the cusp of a third title in four campaigns, alongside potential European glory.
City, who will be crowned champions if they beat Chelsea, also won the League Cup last month.
Yet, Tuchel's progress during his first 100 days in office at Stamford Bridge is arguably an equal, if not greater, feat.
After defeating Real Madrid 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to seal a 3-1 aggregate win in the Champions League semi-finals, the German has been hailed for transforming the Blues' fortunes in double-quick time.
He has turned a side barely languishing in the table's top half into genuine top-four favourites, reached two finals and masterminded the league's most formidable defensive record, all in little more than three months.
Real became the latest victims of the Blues' backline as it racked up its 18th clean sheet in 24 matches under Frank Lampard's replacement.
Zinedine Zidane joined a list of beaten adversaries that reads like a Who's Who of the game.
Juergen Klopp, Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Guardiola himself have all been left trailing in Tuchel's wake following his surprise January appointment.
Claiming multiple high-profile scalps in an incredibly brief period means the German's charges will not be stepping out in Istanbul on May 29 as the archetypal underdogs.
They have adapted quickly, not just to Tuchel's tenure but also Roman Abramovich's whim.
For the third time under his ownership, the Russian oligarch made a mid-season change in the dugout that culminated in a Champions League final appearance.
This time around, however, feels vastly different to the short-lived spells of Avram Grant and Roberto di Matteo.
One ran out of road with Abramovich mere days after the final, while the other was afforded a stay of execution lasting six months.
Chelsea's newest incumbent is under no illusions that he remains at the mercy of the club's absentee premier at any given moment, invariably when results start to turn.
Tuchel did not fall into the same traps as Lampard and numerous predecessors at the Bridge by promising to forge dynasties which never stood a chance of being realised.
Neither will he cede momentum to Guardiola after finally getting the better of his one-time Bundesliga nemesis at the sixth attempt with last month's FA Cup semi-final, where Chelsea downgraded City's annual Quadruple bid to a less-precedented hat-trick.
Events at Old Trafford last weekend mean the Catalan cannot rest on his laurels despite his side needing only three points from their final four games to be crowned champions.
Confirmation of an all-English showdown in Turkey has heightened his latest meeting with Tuchel, whose place in history is already assured by becoming the first manager to make successive Champions League finals while in charge of different clubs.
Should the 47-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain coach succeed in delaying the Etihad's coronation plans, Guardiola may have to settle for finishing up second-best in at least one area.