Carlo Ancelotti promised his Chelsea side would focus entirely on trying to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase with a Group D win over Atletico Madrid Tuesday despite a clash with Manchester United on the horizon.
Chelsea lead Manchester United by two points at the top of the English Premier League ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash at Stamford Bridge but Ancelotti insists that for now the priority is Europe.
Chelsea have a perfect record having won all three of their Champions League matches without conceding a goal and victory over Atletico would book their place in the next round.
“Usually all the people think about the game against Manchester United but we have another important game (against Atletico Madrid) during the week and we want to prepare well,” said Ancelotti.
“It is very easy to prepare for Manchester United because it is a very important match but we need to maintain concentration in the Champions League at this moment.”
Chelsea crushed Bolton Wanderers 4-0 ahead of their trip to the Vicente Calderon where they will face an Atletico side that have failed to win in this season’s Champions League and have not even scored a goal.
Atletico lie third from bottom of their domestic league with one win from nine and know that they have to beat Chelsea, who thrashed them 4-0 at Stamford Bridge, to have any chance of sneaking into the knockout phase for the second successive season.
New coach Quique Sanchez Flores started with a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao and now has a real baptism of fire against Chelsea and then a derby against Real Madrid.
“They are two tough games (against Chelsea and Real Madrid) coming up and everything looks bleak at the moment,” admitted Flores. “We just need a win to get up and running and then there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”
Flores knows all about Chelsea having faced them in the 2007 Champions League quarter-final when he was in charge of Valencia with Jose Mourinho?s Chelsea triumphing 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a dramatic Michael Essien winner.
Atletico?s main problem is their leaky defence which is the worst in the Spanish top-flight, shipping 19 goals in nine games.
“We need to defend as a whole team not just four or five players,” said Czech defender Tomasz Ujfalusi.
Ominously for Atletico Chelsea’s lethal strike force of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are on top of their game wreaking havoc at home and abroad with England international Frank Lampard singing their praises.
“Nico (Anelka) has been fantastic all season. Along with Didier they are a great partnership,” said Lampard. “He (Anelka) has tremendous pace and balance, particularly when he runs at defenders.
“Didier (Drogba) is neck and neck with Fernando Torres in the goals chart, but for me he is the best in the world because of his all-round game.”
Atletico’s Argentine forward Sergio “Kun” Aguero was linked with Chelsea in the past and has a chance to measure himself against the likes of Drogba and Anelka.
“We want rivals to say: man, it’s difficult to play against Atletico Madrid,” said Aguero.
As it stands that is far from the case with Atletico looking a soft touch while Chelsea are looking the part under Ancelotti.
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