Champions League time for Chelsea!
The Champions League is back and the Round of 16 is upon us as Chelsea take on Atletico Madrid for the 1st Leg of the round. The difference is that it won’t be played in Madrid but in Bucharest due to Covid reasons. Atletico currently sit 3 points clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand. Atletico finished 2nd in their Champions League group behind Bayern. They have since won 10, drawn 2, and lost 3. Atletico were in blistering form a couple of weeks ago but recently they have dropped off in the league which has seen their gap at the top reduce.
Chelsea finished top of the table in the group stage but that seems ages ago. Lampard was the manager then. We were in blistering form. Scoring goals for fun. Keeping clean sheets. Then it call came crashing down over December and January. Tuchel who got PSG through the group stage into the Round of 16 was sacked by the French team last year and was free. Chelsea sacked Lampard and appointed Tuchel and 3 weeks on we are doing well if not amazing. Chelsea have won 9, drawn 3, and lost 5 since the final match day. Under Tuchel we have won 5, and drawn 2. We have scored 9 goals and conceded 2. We haven’t found our scoring touch up front but we have managed to regain our solidity at the back. We need to start scoring goals if we are to progress. It is the next step in this phase of revival.
Chelsea Team Preview
Thiago Silva remains out for this game but he has been training. Mendy will remain in goal, and I expect us to stick with 3 at the back. Azpilicueta, Zouma, and Rudiger should make up the back 3 with Reece James at RWB but I would start Chilwell at left wing back. Alonso has not been great and to handle the pace of the Atletico forwards we need pace as well. Kovacic, and Jorginho should continue in midfield while Mount, Werner, and Giroud should start up front. Pulisic, and Havertz are back but I don’t think they will start this game but with 5 subs they could make an impact from the bench. The same goes for Ziyech while Hudson-Odoi could start in place of Reece James. It will be a big test for Chelsea especially with the likes of Felix, and Suarez up front and we will need to be at our best. Our pressing game has been brilliant we now have to start making better decisions in the final 3rd. Our forward players need to start hitting form and now is the best time to do it. Chelsea won’t get too many chances so it’s all about being clinical.
Atletico Madrid Team Preview
Atletico have been playing a 3-2-4-1 at times this season but I think for this game they will switch to a traditional 3-4-3. Oblak is a mainstay in goal, while Gimenez is out injured with Kondogbia probably dropping into the back 3. Hermoso, and Felipe have been mainstays in the back three. Llorente and Lodi have been strong wing backs this season while Koke, and Kondogbia have formed a nice partnership in midfield but Torreira should play in the midfield in this game. Up front Correa, Felix, and Suarez have provided the attacking threat with Suarez in great form. Lemar, Dembele, and Vitolo all provide threat if they come on or start. We all know Simeone’s Atletico teams and while there have been small tweaks this season the DNA is the same. Physical defensively solid sides with top quality strikers up front.
Starting XI Prediction
3 weeks ago Chelsea fans were dreading this game due to Atletico’s form back then and Chelsea’s form at the time. 3 weeks on Atletico have come down to earth while Chelsea have risen from the depths of despair to play some good football. We have beaten Atletico before and we can do it again but we will have to be creative and then clinical in front of goal, getting some away goals would be great. Another 4 goal haul by Giroud would be great! Jokes aside a tough game but a fun one none the less. COME ON CHELSEA!!!