If Atlético are to win a European trophy this season, they again have to defeat a team managed by Jose Mourinho, this time in the form of English Premier League side Chelsea.
The UEFA Champions League semi-final draw was made today in Nyon, and means that an all-Madrid final is still on the cards in Lisbon, after our arch rivals Real were drawn against defending champions Bayern Munich.
It is the first time that Atlético will face the Blues since lifting the UEFA Super Cup at their expense back in September 2012, a game most fondly remembered for the first half hat-trick scored by Radamel Falcao.
The last time travelled to Stamford Bridge was a different matter. In the group stages of the 2009/10 Champions League competition, Los Rojiblancos slumped to a 4-0 defeat in London, which ended up being Abel Resino’s last game in charge of Atleti.
Atleti drew the return fixture at home 2-2, and will be looking for another positive result when the one-time winners of the Champions League turn up in Madrid.
Atlético will host the first leg at the Vicente Calderón on Tuesday 22nd April, whilst the return match is booked for the following Wednesday, the 30th April, in London.
Despite reports earlier in the week that our wonderkeeper Courtois wouldn’t be able to play against his parent club Chelsea, UEFA released a statement prior to the draw, declaring that any clause in Atlético’s agreement with Chelsea preventing the Belgian from playing is ‘null and void’.
“The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.
“Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match.”
Chelsea has allegedly asked for a payment of €3m per match, but Blues chief executive Ron Gourlay told their official website “the loan was arranged at the start of the season and it is quite simple, Courtois can play against Chelsea, that was never in doubt.”
It’s our first semi-final at the top table in Europe for 40 years. Let’s make the most of it.