As you would expect in the semi finals of Europe’s premier competition, Chelsea have an extremely tough task over two legs as we face arguably the most on form side in Europe, Atletico Madrid.
Locked in a title battle with Barcelona and City neighbours Real, Atletico are top of the Primera division, four points clear of Barca and six clear of Real who have a match in hand. Atletico have only lost three league matches all season. They have a slight advantage in terms of preparation for our fixture at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday as they played their league match on Friday night, defeating Elche 2-0.
The Atletico goals came from David Villa, and the much talked about Diego Costa. That ends speculation that he could have missed the first leg through injury. Atletico manager Diego Simeone has indeed declared his whole squad fit for Tuesday, including the returning Ardur Turan, a boost to their midfield. Another player perhaps controversially available for Atletico is on loan Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois. The young Belgian has been in exceptional form since he moved to Spain on loan after signing for Chelsea and will face us for the second time, after keeping goal in our Uefa Super cup defeat to them in 2012. Another former Chelsea player is in their squad as well, in the shape of Tiago. A member of our 04/05 league cup and Premier league winning squad. Whilst their options up front have already been mentioned in the form of Costa and Villa, they have notable strength throughout the squad. Brazilian attacking midfielder Diego will likely feature behind the centre forward, and is an extremely gifted creator, and a set piece threat, whom we have faced before when he featured for Porto, and again for Werder Bremen. Koke will also feature in midfield and can provide a scoring threat. Cristian Rodriguez is a rapid winger who needs to be watched, he features down the left. Raul Garcia offers insurance in front of defence. Miranda, Filip Luis and Diego Godin could operate across the backline.
As far as Chelsea are concerned, Mourinho has rather less options at his disposal than usual. Matic and Salah are cup tied, and Ivanovic is suspended. Eto’o, who misses the first leg with a swollen knee, now joins them on the sidelines. Azpilicueta will likely switch to right back, with Ashley Cole coming in at left back. Cech should return after missing Saturday’s match through illness. Hazard is a doubt, whether he is fitter than Mourinho has us believe remains to be seen. So Jose must decide between Ba and Torres up top.
The second leg being played at Stamford Bridge always seems to be an advantage for us, with most score lines being rectified over the years if they haven’t gone our way in the first leg. Having said that, an away goal has usually been the backbone of these come backs, so it would be great to score on Tuesday. It will be an intriguing tactical battle between Simeone and Mourinho. It promises to be a fascinating tie over two legs. Our last meeting with Atletico in the Vicente Calderon resulted in a 2-2 draw in the 09/10 group stage. We did beat them 4-0 at home that season as well, but have been comfortably beaten in our last meeting with them on neutral ground in the 2012 Super cup. This was largely down to a superb Falcao hat trick though, a player no longer on their books.
Lets hope for a good result in Spain, and remember, we’ve done it before!