Big Match Breakdown: Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
This match could shape Group C
Chelsea’s first away match in the Champions League under Antonio Conte couldn’t be much tougher – they’ll face a real test against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Atletico have reached the final in two of the last four years and will be looking to mark the inaugural European game at their shiny new stadium with a win.
These two sides are expected to battle for top spot in Group C. The side that wins at Estadio Metropolitano will be in the driving seat.
Here’s all the lowdown ahead of the big game:
Head to Head
Chelsea have only beaten Atletico once in five previous meetings. Their sole victory was a 4-0 win in the Champions League group stage back in 2009.
The two clubs last met in the 2013-14 semi-finals. After drawing 0-0 in the Spanish capital, Diego Simeone’s side won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa, who joined Chelsea from Atletico and is now heading back again, was amongst the scorers for Los Colchoneros that night.
The Blues have won six of their last seven games in all competitions and sit third in the Premier League. They also lead Group C after beating Qarabag in the opening round of fixtures.
Atletico drew with Roma in their first European game of the campaign and are joint-second on one point. They’re also second in La Liga, four points behind Barcelona.
The Likely XIs
Eden Hazard’s return to fitness means both sides are basically at full strength.
Antonio Conte is likely to give the nod to Tiemoue Bakayoko ahead of Cesc Fabregas in midfield to combat Atletico’s threat on the break. It’s set to be a tight game and Fabregas could be very effective coming off the bench.
Atletico are especially dangerous on the left. Former Chelsea full-back Filipe Luis and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco both operate there, while Antoine Griezmann frequently drops into wide positions. With that in mind, Davide Zappacosta could start ahead of Victor Moses at right wing-back.
Atletico are one of the best-drilled teams in Europe. They’ve only conceded 11 goals in 25 group stage matches under Simeone. And just four of those have come at home.
Their organisation in central areas means that Chelsea’s wing-backs could be key. They’ll need to stretch the play while being careful not to leave their flank exposed.
In midfield, Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante aren’t the most creative duo but they should have more legs than Gabi and Saul Niguez. Gabi is an inspirational figure for his side but he’s now 34-years-old.
If the West London side do get beyond the Atletico midfield, the movement and speed of their attack could cause real problems.
Diego Simeone has never lost to an English side during his managerial career. The odds suggest Chelsea won’t be able to break that pattern, as Atletico are 11/10 favourites.
Both of these sides are very solid at the back. Atletico only conceded 27 league goals last season, and Chelsea let in 33.
Chances are likely to be few and far between – Atletico Madrid and Under 2.5 Goals looks tempting at 29/10.
Antoine Griezmann is the Spanish side’s star attacker but there’s better value in Carrasco as an Anytime Goalscorer at 14/5. Carrasco is Atletico’s joint-top scorer with three in six in La Liga so far.
Alvaro Morata is Chelsea’s best hope of a goal. He’ll be especially confident after bagging a superb hat-trick last weekend. The former Real Madrid man is 5/1 as First Goalscorer.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing