Chelsea host Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. Thomas Tuchel’s side hold a 1-0 advantage from the first leg and have the extra benefit of playing their home match in London, whereas the first leg was at a neutral venue in Romania. Atleti won at Anfied to knock Liverpool out last season so will have every belief of progressing despite the first leg deficit.
After Saturday’s 0-0 draw away at Leeds, Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 matches under new coach, Thomas Tuchel. However, the side have drawn three of their last six matches and have scored just 13 times in those 12 games.
The run has included very impressive 1-0 away wins at Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool with plenty of pace selected to stretch the home side. Chelsea have also fired blanks in drawing 0-0 at home with both Wolves and Man Utd and then the weekend’s stalemate with Leeds.
Defensively, the side is doing an amazing job with 10 clean sheets in 12 under Tuchel with only Sheffield United and Southampton scoring against Chelsea. The Blues have kept five clean sheets in a row.
Chelsea Team News
Tuchel has two suspensions and two injuries to deal with for this match. Mason Mount and Jorginho miss out due to an accumulation of yellow cards and both Tammy Abraham and Thiago Silva are doubtful with injuries.
The back three and “double six” pick themselves with Mateo Kovacic returning to start alongside N’Golo Kante. The front three holds the real question marks. Timo Werner will certainly start and Kai Havertz is also likely to keep his place.
The third position could go to either Olivier Giroud or Callum Hudson-Odoi. The latter could also be picked at right wingback (where Christian Pulisic played against Leeds) if Tuchel intends to attack. That looks unlikely.
Chelsea are expected to play defensively with seven men behind the ball and some pace in attack if Atletico become stretched in searching for a goal. Tuchel may not actively play for a 0-0 draw but would be happy for the game to be goalless going into the final 20 minutes knowing how solid his side is.
The test will be if Atletico score first and Chelsea have to open up somewhat as they are not equipped to play an open game nor are they really set up to attack with just three offensive players likely to be selected.
Atletico Madrid Form
Atleti has suffered a dip of late as their 10 point lead at the top of La Liga has become six points with Barcelona having a game in hand and able to cut the gap to four points on Monday. A 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo was followed by a 2-1 win away at Grenada.
Atleti then drew 1-1 at Levante before losing 2-0 at home to the same opposition. Since losing the first leg to Chelsea, Diego Simeone’s team have won two and drawn two La Liga matches including 0-0 away at 15th-placed Getafe over the weekend.
Atletico Madrid News
Having been without Jose Gimenez, Kieran Trippier and Yannick Carrasco for the first leg, Diego Simeone has all three back and available for this game. Diego Simeone will probably play a back five as he did in the first leg but his side can easily play a back four too, or switch in-game with a single substitution.
The most likely situation is Joao Felix being left on the bench as an impact substitute. He has played less than 60% of the league minutes for Atletico this season and has started just two of the last six La Liga matches. It will more likely be Angel Correa and Marcos Llorente in support of Luis Suarez.
Jan Oblak has been carrying a knock in goal but was fit to face Getafe after missing training and should play in this match.
Atletico Madrid Motivation
Atleti can’t play too much of an open game and there were times in the first leg where Chelsea’s shape forced them into a back six. However, they need the first goal to bring the home side out and to create space to break.
The first leg saw only fleeting moments of very effective high pressing and if Simeone is brave to set his side up to close down Chelsea’s buildup then there could be real joy for Colchoneros. Should the score be 0-0 or 1-1 with 20 minutes to go, Atletico will likely have Suarez, Joao Felix and Moussa Dembele all on the pitch at the same time.
Atletico have won 2 of their last 7 matches (D3, L2)
Atletico have the best defence in La Liga with 18 goals conceded in 27 matches
Atleti have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 5 CL matches
Chelsea have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 12 matches
Chelsea have averaged 1.08 goals scored per game in their last 12 matches
Chelsea have seen under 1.5 goals in 4 of their last 5 matches
This looks likely be another very tight match. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw looks likely but don’t discount Atleti winning 1-0 and taking the tie to extra time.