Tomorrow night Stamford Bridge hosts the first of our back to back Champions League group matches against Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid.
We of course remember the last Spanish side to visit the Bridge and the events that followed, one of our victims, Jose Bosingwa, has served his ban for outing Ovrebo as being a tea leaf, but is out due to a knee injury sustained against Villa on the weekend. This is the last game that Drogba is suspended for.
Alex played a half for the reserves last night, scoring a belter of a free kick, but as he hasn’t had much match practice and we have enough defensive cover, I wouldn’t expect him to feature at all. Mikel is also back after injury.
In the Champions League it is so far so good for us, two matches, two 1-0 wins, a win for us tomorrow would almost certainly guarantee qualification , a loss for us would put Atletico back in contention after a faltering start.
Neither team go into this match with the preparation they desire, both of us lost away from home on the weekend, Osasuna’s three goals in the first half hour being the only goals of their match, and we of course lost to Villa. The match before that they beat Real Zaragoza 2-1 at home.
After seven matches in La Liga Atletico find themselves a point off the relegation spots, their Champions League campaign has so far been no better, lying bottom of Group D on Goal Difference. A goalless draw at home to APOEL wasn’t a great start and it was followed by letting in two goals in the last quarter of an hour to lose 2-0 away to Porto.
There is a chance that we can all but guarantee qualification in tomorrow nights clash. Porto are at home to APOEL and provided that they don’t lose then it will leave APOEL with either one or two points. Should that happen and we also win it would give us nine points, with Atletico on one point and APOEL on either one or two points. Forcing one of them to need to win all their games and us to lose all of ours.
A bit about Atletico Madrid
Unless you’re new to football, you’ll know that Madrid have in their ranks Argentinian Sergio Aguero, whilst a lot of fans don’t know a lot about him and haven’t seen much of him playing, for a couple of years now he has been touted as a very hot prospect and someone that we have constantly been linked with.
They also have ex players from the rest of the ‘big four’, Jose Antonio Reyes, Diego Forlan and … Florent Sinama Pongolle. The first two of which we know enough about, both having previously scored winners against us.
Their current manager is Abel Resino, a former goalie who plyed his trade in the eighties and nineties, and was nicknamed El Gato, or as we say in English, The Cat (sounds familiar doesn’t it). He took the helm earlier this year, his CV makes Avram Grant’s pre-Chelsea one look alluring, his previous managerial experience being Ciudad Murcia, Levante (got sacked) and Castellion, spending no more then a season and a half at each.
Javier Aguirre did a lot of the work in getting them into the Champions League, but much like our own then gaffer, he left in early February last season due to disappointing results.
Atletico Madrid – Brief Club History
Whilst here in England some perceive the team to live in the shadows of neighbours Real, they have won La Liga nine times, the last of which was the 95/96 season, and have come runners up on a further eight occasions. Their best effort in the Champions League came in the 1973/74 season, where after seeing off Celtic in the semi’s they played Bayern Munich in the final, it was 0-0 after 90 minutes, in extra time the politically incorrect Luis Aragones gave them the lead, but with a minute to go Munich equalised, taking the match to a replay, which Atletico lost 4-0.
Speaking of the politically incorrect, Ron Atkinson used to manage them. As did Claudio Ranieri, both of which during took the reigns during the infamous era of the late Jesus Gil, who had a record with managers so bad that it makes Roman look to have a virtue of patience.
Cech, A. Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Bosingwa, Essien, Malouda, Deco, Lampard, Kalou, Anelka
Chelsea to win 2-1