Champions League preview: Atlético vs. Chelsea

Fernando Torres and Chelsea in town for vital European face off

Torres hasn't been enjoying his Chelsea time (Getty)

Torres hasn't been enjoying his Chelsea time (Getty)

Time after time this season, Atlético Madrid have put in historic performances and continued to prove people wrong. If they want to make this season truly memorable, that cannot stop now.

Desperate for success both domestically and in Europe, the red and whites play their first Champions League semi-final in forty years on Tuesday night, and will be welcoming home a familiar face against 2012 winners Chelsea.

Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 20:45 CET.

Fernando Torres spent 12 years at Atleti – 6 in the first team and 4 as captain – and tomorrow will return to where it all started for the first time as an opposition player since leaving for Liverpool in the summer of 2007.

Having lead us through one of the bleakest periods in our history and represented our club – his club – throughout his career, El Niño can expect a rousing reception in what will be a very special occasion for all concerned.

However, most importantly, both teams are just a couple of games away from the biggest stage in club football, in what many are anticipating to be a fascinating tie between two very similar styles.

Chelsea arrive on the back of a demoralising home defeat to the Premier League’s bottom side Sunderland, one that leaves them needing a miracle if they are to win the English title.

For manager José Mourinho, another figure whom Atleti fans know all too well, it was the first time a visiting side had won at Stamford Bridge in two separate spells in charge of the Blues, and means his focus will now most likely be all on the Champions League.

This is the seventh time in his career that the former Real Madrid manager has reached the last four of the competition, reaching three finals and winning two of them with Porto in 2003, and Inter in 2010.

As for the home side, only two members of the playing and coaching staff, Tiago and David Villa, have been here before, although Diego Simeone insists that his team’s relative lack of experience will not play against them.

“We focus on ourselves. Right now, preparation is all that counts,” he told press on Monday. “I expect a very tight match decided by details or the odd moment of technical quality.”

“We’re not the same [as Chelsea], but there are similarities. The team that works better collectively will manage to bring out these individual qualities and will be closest to the final.”

The Argentine coach also spoke about his former teammate Fernando Torres, less than a week after admitting he would welcome him into his squad should the chance ever arise.

“Fernando loves this club and the its people; he has good memories here and before the match, I think he will receive the ovation that he deserves. He will always be one of us at Atlético.”

Selection wise, Simeone has a full workforce available to him, which at this stage in the season is absolutely crucial.

On Sunday he was boosted by the return to full training of Arda Turan, although the Turk will most likely start from the bench given and build up fitness ahead of the home stretch.

The only other doubt was the much-debated issue of Thibaut Courtois and his eligibility for the two games, given that he is on loan from Chelsea. However, the 21 year-old wonder ‘keeper has been given the all clear to play.

Courtois kept goal the last time the team’s best back in August 2012, when a Radamel Falcao hat-trick set Atleti on their way to an unforgettable 4-1 win in the European Super Cup final. Mourinho, however, did not seem best pleased about the Belgian’s availability.

“I think it’s better not to discuss UEFA decisions, you just accept. If you don’t accept, you don’t comment.” he said. “Of course all players want to play in these games, everyone involved tomorrow will be extra motivated.”

The Portuguese tactician didn’t appear to have warmed towards Madrid press since departing the Bernabéu last year, deciding not to speak about Atlético’s qualities and avoiding answering questions in Spanish.

“I’ve spoken to my players about Atlético already, they are a team we respect and have studied and analysed a lot. You don’t get to a Champions League semi-final without being a good team and they are no exception.”

Defender David Luiz accompanied Mourinho to the press conference, and spoke about the match as well as his one-time compatriot Diego Costa, who has been linked in the UK with a move to Stamford Bridge.

“We are all enthusiastic, playing in a semi-final is important for us all, but Atlético have a great history and have won many titles. Our idea is to play well with intensity but football is always measured in results, we all want to win and get to the final.”

“Tomorrow is a match between the two teams, not Diego [Costa] and I,” he continued. “We have a plan for him but my boss didn’t speak about it so neither will I. He’s a good friend but I hope Chelsea win the match.”

Luiz could be in line to play at full-back, as first choice Branislav Ivanović is out through suspension. Ashley Cole is another option, although the England international has featured sparingly in recent months.

The Blues will be without Samuel Eto’o due to injury which could free up Torres to start, and are sweating on the fitness of danger man Eden Hazard. The 23 year-old has not trained since limping off in the last round at PSG, but is in contention having made the trip.

Also absent will be Nemanja Matić and Mohamed Salah, both cup-tied following January transfers.

Elsewhere in the Spanish capital on Wednesday night, Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich in the other semi-final before the return in Germany next Tuesday. The following day, Atleti travel to London for their second leg.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Aranzubia
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Diego, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa

Chelsea match selection
Goalkeepers: Cech, Schwarzer, Hilário
Defenders: Terry, David Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Cole, Kalas, Ake
Midfielders: Ramires, Lampard, Mikel, Oscar, Hazard, Willian, Van Ginkel
Forwards: Torres, Ba, Schürrle

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)

  • palc

    Not the first time Torres faces us.

  • Billy


    It is his first time against us in the Calderon, as I said in the article

  • palc

    Oh yeah. My bad! Don’t think he’ll be handed a starting spot

  • A.Aj

    Beautiful article.
    Although there were few mix ups I think. Porto won in 2004, not in 2003, and Mourinho have only been in 2 CL finals.
    Again, well written article, and GL to Atleti tonight.

  • Farzad from Iran

    All of us like torres,,and torres ,,too today It is so good news that arda turan come back again,,chelsea shouldn not score any goal

  • piserakos

    Vamos Atleti Vamos!!!

  • Miguel

    This game will be epic, I see Atleti coming away with a big win at least by 2 goals. I’m so proud of our team this season and no matter what happens will continue to be proud. The champions league is special and our team will be ready for a historic night. watching Atleti always makes my day better and I don’t think the boys will disappoint today

  • Jelle

    I’m pretty sure that we are winning this game. I will say 2-0 but I hope we can get a good result!

    Come on guys! Atletiiiiiiii

  • Amir Habib Mukadaffi

    anyone a idea who the 11 starters will be?

  • doug

    Hi Fulham supporter here,
    Was at the europa final in Hamburg.Loved the
    day and meeting your supporters around the town.
    Gutted to lose but have followed you since. Good luck
    against Chelsea tonight,and in the return. Massive double
    is on for you,sadly my team have failed since europa final
    but nice to see you have progressed,,,,

  • eva

    All the best to the blues

  • Jeronamo

    Thank you Doug

  • AaX

    Support your MOST if you must Tonight! But Keep YOUR BEST against Valencia in the weekend because IT’S The KEY MATCH of The Season. GOD WILLING we’ll be Through and True. PEACE

  • Ali

    I belive we can win 3-0 and that will be enough to get us through to the final!!!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    A.AJ is right
    and it’s not the first time Billy gets confused with the numbers, I guess math was not one of his favorite subjects in school 😉

    and this will drive Piserakos crazy :
    I believe we should and we will have a big win tonight, 2-0 or 3-0 .. or more
    and no one stole my account my Greek friend .. it is me 🙂

    Doug : thank you for your nice words
    in fact, I was a Fulham fan because of his owner -my compatriot- Mohamed Al-Fayed (although in 16 years under him we have never seen a single Egyptian player in Fulham)
    I’m really sad for what they are going throw right now, I thought they would be better under the new owner Shahid Khan, whom I saw at the start of the season on an interview with CNN promising that he will bring Fulham back to European competitions, but instead, he is about to relegate them from EPL, from his first try
    what an achievement !

  • EC

    what team does every1 want out?


    Juanfran – Godin – Miranda – Felipe

    Koke – Tiago – Gabi – Turan

    Costa – Villa

    is probably what i would go for, really hope Arda starts. won’t mind if Garcia starts instead of Villa but i think Villa’s experience could come in handy in these games

  • Brad

    So, no Arda or Villa starting?

  • Brad

    Cech out with an injury

  • Ali

    Chelsea are playing 8-1-1

  • farhan

    8-1-1 😀 hahahahahah

  • farhan

    hell mind nd tactical game going now….

  • Brad

    that’s because they play mou-ball, not football

  • farhan

    you mou and your bus … we will destroy you

  • Brad

    Anyone notice they’re making us play possession football?

  • farhan

    finally half time hope we come with some new tactic in 2nd half

  • Brad

    Get their back-up keeper to crash?

  • Brad

    Or maybe shoot the ball somewhere other than directly at him?

  • farhan

    HALF TIME – Atletico Madrid 0-0 Chelsea: The
    hosts have had the better of possession but have
    been unable to find a way through Jose
    Mourinho’s stoic Chelsea side. Opportunities to
    break the deadlock have been at a premium with
    no goalkeeper yet forced into a meaningful save.
    It has been a pragmatic first half, from both sides
    to some degree,

  • farhan

    mou is coward nmd arogant too i dont like him ans nd his tactics helll boooooring

  • Will

    I think Morinho is probably one of the two most competent coaches actually. He locked us perfectly but Simeone read it perfectly also before the match starting with Raúl instead of short Villa.

  • Brad

    Will, thanks for your analysis of that. I was kinda confused why villa wasn’t starting.

  • Brad

    So is this “how many chelsea players can get injured?”

  • anshary

    Top class time wasting from david luiz

  • Will

    @BRAD, that’s what I think. We can’t get it through passing the ball.. crossing is our main play today. Makes sense, right?

    Lampard is out from next match.

  • Brad

    More time wasting…

  • Jeronamo

    I’m really upset.. not about the result because chelsea won’t be this defensive at home but I’m upset about the way and time cholo used the subs today. Raul garcia should have been the first out, he just wasn’t helping and why take off diego when he wasted zero passes and was the only one looking like a serious goal threat?
    And the subs were late… it was frustrating as hell to watch

  • Will

    Again, I can’t describe how proud I am from my Atlético. When Chelsea with all their money, come to our home and play this coward match we see how big we are and how respect we are demanding.

    I really think Mourinho is an disgusting person but an outstanding coach. We all knew it would be tough and the first half is over.

    Our next final now: Valencia.

  • Chewie

    Not a bad game against the bus. We had our chances, however thin they were. After all, a draw at home isn’t so bad – if both teams will play like that in the 2nd leg, the away goal will be in our favour. But it is obvious that this is a clash of tactical titans, both Mourinho and Simeone have to do some extra homework to outsmart one another. Super intense match. And yes, positional football is not our forte. Poor Costa, they gave him no space whatsoever. Just hope Chelsea will get tired after their epic encounter with Liverpool and we will put just one goal behind Cech. Or two, to make it certain)

  • EC

    I abseloutly despise Chelsea with all my Heart. There an embarrassment to football.

    That is all.

  • Zakaria

    We owned the game and did not score, I agree with Jeronamo about the subs. Costa wasn’t great, Diego was just amazing, he should have stayed.
    Better luck next time
    Aupa atletico

  • Will

    Good to see Arda back. We’ll need him desperately against Valencia and Chelsea next week. Raúl Garcia injury seemed to be kind of serious.

  • Ali

    With terry and cech injured mikel and lampard suspended. They don’t have any midfield players available other then Ramires. This isn’t actually a bad result for us and plus they have to play liverpool first and I hope liverpool trash them so they can lose their morale. And thier is also a advantage for us that stamford bridge atmosphere is very quiet and with only 41 thousand capacity. So their won’t be atmosphere as same as camp nou , bernabeu or san siro!!