In a tense encounter over in Romania, Chelsea just about managed to edge past Atletico Madrid and record a much-needed 1-0 first leg win over the La Liga leaders. Olivier Giroud scored the one and only goal with a sensational overhead kick, reaffirming to many that he is still a very dangerous man in world football.
In the wake of Barcelona and Sevilla both losing in the Champions League last week, many were looking towards Atletico Madrid as the potential saviours of the Spanish game – but in the end, they just couldn’t get the job done. Chelsea neutralised them in a way that PSG and Borussia Dortmund also did to the aforementioned teams, and that does leave us to wonder what kind of state the La Liga sides are going to be heading into their second legs. They’ve been the kings of the castle for so long, but that reputation is slipping pretty rapidly.
Even when it seemed as if Atletico could cause Chelsea problems, Thomas Tuchel’s men shut them down with the sort of ruthless efficiency needed to shine in the Champions League environment. Some will argue that the Blues would’ve won by an even greater margin if they had Frank Lampard’s attacking style at the helm, and that may be the case. Still, Tuchel is aa smart manager who isn’t afraid to install some tough football if it means securing the results that will help his club succeed.
Chelsea are actually the fifth favourites to win the UEFA Champions League title this season at 14/1 with 888sport. That puts them behind Manchester City, Bayern Munich, PSG and, bizarrely, Liverpool. Tuchel knows that isn’t unlikely they’ll be able to go all the way but a win like this is always going to give your betting hopes an injection of life – and we can understand the logic behind that. Still, everyone counted them out back in 2012 when they shocked the world and beat Bayern Munich in the final under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo, and we certainly aren’t going to be the ones who say they can’t do it.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (7), Hermoso (6), Felipe (6.5), Savic (6.5), Lemar (6), Niguez (7), Koke (7), Llorente (7), Felix (6), Correa (6), Suarez (6.5), Torreira (6), Vitolo (6), Dembele (6), Lodi (6.5)
Chelsea: Mendy (6.5), Azpilicueta (8), Christensen (7), Rudiger (6.5), Hudson-Odoi (7), Jorginho (6.5), Kovacic (7), Alonso (7), Mount (7), Giroud (7.5), Werner (6.5), James (6), Pulisic (6), Ziyech (6.5), Havertz (6), Kante (6)
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych
Yellow Cards: Lemar, Llorente, Mount, Jorginho
Red Cards: N/A
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