Chelsea Leaves Madrid with A Draw Against Atletico

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    Updated: April 22, 2014
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    It was the most awaited champions league clash; the ‘underdogs’ and ‘workaholics’ Atletico Madrid taking on the resilient Chelsea. Both teams were coming into the match ahead of sturdy semi final performances.

    The former had overthrown their Spanish rivals Barcelona while the latter surmounted a two-goal deficit to defeat PSG. The enigma of the match was enhanced by the fact that it was to be a clash of Jose Mourinho and Diego Simeone, two of the best managers in football. 

    Mourinho had a bit of a predicament in terms of his team: Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto were out due to injury.

    And Mouro knew that no matter how much skill you have, Atletico’s hard working players will nullify you unless you have physical presence.

    Keeping the same in mind, Chelsea started with Brazilian workhorses Willian and Ramires on the wings and a holding midfield trio of Lampard, Mikel and Luiz. Torres was played up front and the central attacking midfield role was kept free for Lampard and Luiz to fill in.

     

    Ashley Cole got the nod ahead of Ivanovic. 

    Diego Simeone did not change much in his squad. Diego Ribas replaced David Villa and Costa started up front. The same offensive philosophy, as in other matches was used with Raul Garcia playing as the second striker and Koke holding the midfield. Filipe Luis played a very crucial role regularly pushing from the back. Short passes, frequent changes of wings and eagerness to penetrate were the order of the day for the Los Rojiblancos. 

    The game was played with tactics in mind; Chelsea focused on defending while Atletico continuously pushed forward.

    The latter’s midfield was pretty successfully closed down by Chelsea’s trio and they were frequently forced to go wide. Crosses were the major source of threat for Atletico but the tenacious Chelsea centre backs held on and aptly dealt with the threats. 

    Two big blows to Chelsea were the injuries to their sturdy captain John Terry and talismanic keeper Cech. But equally experienced players filled in both the roles: Luiz took up his erstwhile role of CB and the veteran shot-stopper Schwarzer filled in for Cech.

    The momentum of the game was largely with Atletico. Waves of attacks down the wings with frequent crosses were proving too much to handle and several times Atletico came close to scoring.

    The Costa-Garcia strike partnership was for me a fail. Had Simeone brought on David Villa earlier, the presence of both goal machines might have proved too much to handle.

    In midfield, Mikel and Lampard’s boisterous presence nullified the advances of Koke and Suarez and they were only afforded a few harmless long rangers in the way of attempts. There was commendably zero penetration from the centre. 

    Chelsea’s attacks largely depended on Willian’s pace. Ramires on the right wing was an utter debacle and only when Schurrle was brought on, did that wing come into Chelsea’s offensive play.

    Torres with his nimble feet and eagerness to impress was brilliant in tackling the Atletico defenders but it came to no avail. He had a few chances to set up a teammate but these were wasted in the heat of the moment. Lampard’s midfield advances were met with the potency of the Spanish midfielders and apart from one volley, he could not avail any chances to score.

    The contest was a heated one. Both teams were tactically well prepared. Mourinho had clearly prepped his team well to deal with the aggressive work rates of the Atletico Madrid players while the latter were playing their usual game of pushing forward.

    The defensive vulnerability of Atletico de Madrid could have been more aptly exposed by the likes of Oscar and Schurrle but this would have cost Chelsea at the back.

    The tie is juicily set up for the second leg. Chelsea will have to bear the brunt of not being able to get an away goal while Atletico will feel disappointed at having failed to score at home. A cracking second leg awaits!

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