Chelsea v Atlético Preview

by - December 05, 2017

This week sees the final group matches of this season’s Champions League. Come 10pm on Wednesday we will know who the 16 contenders are for the knock stages and aiming at being at The Olympic Stadium in Kiev on 26 May 2018 for the final.

Chelsea host Atlético Madrid on Tuesday in a match where victory for The Blues will see them finishing top of their group. That in itself is a great achievement in a very tough group. They professionally swept aside the new boys Qarabag including the long trip out to Azerbaijan. But most impressive was their victory away in Madrid. However Conte’s side found Roma in fine form both home and away.

Overall, Chelsea are currently leading the group because they have been the most consistent side. They are already certain of playing in the next round so Tuesday’s ties will determine if they can win the group as well as who joins them in the latter stages and who will drop down into the Europa League.

Atlético had started as favourites to win the group when the draw had originally been made thanks to reaching the quarter-finals or better in the last four seasons and in 2014  they defeated Chelsea on their way to the Final. But indifferent form, especially 2 draws against Qarabag have stunted their progress and they are currently on the brink of being eliminated.

Diego Simeone‘s side will need to beat Chelsea and also hope that Qarabag can manage to get an unlikely draw away in Rome. So we can expect a strong performance from the Spaniards and there will be no doubting that Conte will want victory and to top the group.

The manager gave some clues as to some of his starting line up with his substitutions on Saturday when victory over Newcastle looked assured. Hazard, Fabregas and Christensen were all withdrawn with 10 - 15 minutes remaining in order keep their fitness as high as possible going into this tie. Whether Conte opts for the 3-5-2 formation, which was so effective away in Madrid, with Morata leading the line or reverts back to a 3-4-3 with a potential front line of Hazard, Pedro and Willian can be debated but surely this match calls for strength in numbers in midfield again. With Kante in such excellent form, Fabregas’s mercurial passing and the rapid improvements of Drinkwater and his integration into the side will give Atlético much to consider whilst they attempt to gain the upper hand early on.

The Chelsea manager confirmed in his prematch press conference that David Luiz is still struggling with his knee injury and will not feature. Meanwhile, ex Chelsea striker Diego Costa has not traveled with his new teammates as he cannot be registered as an Atlético player until January.

As intriguing as this tie appears, if news comes through of Roma taking the lead in their match, then surely the resolve will dissipate from the visitors as their fate will be sealed for them elsewhere. The impetus with then switch to Chelsea to get the 3 points and finish as group winners.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

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