Monday, October 23, 2017

Prediction: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

Verdict: Atletico Madrid or Draw

Best Odds: 2/7

Bookmakers: Bet 365

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid host Premier League champions Chelsea on Wednesday night in week two of the Champions League group stage. Both teams will be looking to progress from Group C, and this game will go a long way towards deciding who will finish on top.

Atletico Madrid

The Rojiblancos opened their Champions League account this season with a 0-0 draw away at Roma. This result certainly won’t trouble Diego Simeone too much as Atleti are famed for their reliance on defensive solidity, but it makes the home game against Chelsea that bit more important. Simeone won’t want to be playing catch-up if the result doesn’t go their way, but the Madrid club have suffered just one defeat at home in their last four seasons in the competition. Any fears that the move away from the Estadio Vicente Calderón would impact their performances at home have been quickly dispelled by two wins in their first two games at their new stadium, the magnificent Wanda Metropolitano.

The latest of these home wins came at the weekend as goals from Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann sealed a 2-0 victory over Sevilla. Despite the talismanic Griezmann having served a two-game domestic ban, Atleti are still unbeaten in La Liga this season with four wins and two draws. The Rojiblancos have also kept four clean sheets in all competitions, and Chelsea will certainly have to come up with something special to beat this incredibly well drilled side.

Team News

Augusto Fernandez is the only injury doubt for Simeone with a muscle issue. Right back Sime Vrsaljko has returned from the knee injury he suffered in March.

Chelsea

Antonio Conte’s side emphatically dispatched Qarabag 6-0 in the opening group stage game and currently sit top of Group C. The Azerbaijani may be the whipping boys of the group, but Chelsea have also shown their class in the Premier League, picking up wins against the likes of Tottenham, Everton, Leicester and, most recently, Stoke. The Blues blew apart the Potters in a 0-4 away win at the weekend, and new signing Alvaro Morata bagged an impressive hat-trick.

Eden Hazard, arguably Chelsea’s best player, is nearing full match fitness and should feature from the start in this game. The Belgian’s presence will provide a huge boost for the Blues, and Atleti right back Sime Vrsaljko struggled all afternoon against Sevilla on Saturday so he will not look forward to facing Hazard on Wednesday night. If Chelsea are going to achieve any success at all in this game don’t be surprised if it comes down the left hand side.

Team News

Thibaut Courtois avoided a concussion following his collision with Gary Cahill during the game against Stoke at the weekend. The Belgian goalkeeper will thus be fine to face his former club on Wednesday night. David Luiz should also return to central defence as his suspension is only for domestic games.

Danny Drinkwater is the only absentee for Antonio Conte as the England midfielder is out with a calf injury until the beginning of October.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Atletico Madrid have only lost one Champions League home game in the last four seasons.
  • The last time Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid was October 2009.
  • Atletico Madrid have never lost at home to an English team in the Champions League.
  • The last five games Chelsea have played in Spain have ended in draws.
  • Four of Atletico Madrid’s five home wins in the competition last season were by a one-goal margin.

Conclusion

Atletico Madrid’s Champions League home record is incredible, and Chelsea could struggle to get going in this tricky away trip. Both managers favour systems involving quick counterattacks and catching teams on the break, and this tactical stalemate could lead to a low-scoring game.

Verdict: Atletico Madrid or Draw

Best Odds: 2/7

Bookmakers: Bet 365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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