Atletico Madrid go into Wednesday night’s match with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge knowing that a single goal could be enough to take them to their first top-tier European Cup final in 40 years.
The second leg of the semi-final kicks off at 20:45 CET at Stamford Bridge, which has been something of a fortress in recent seasons for Jose Mourinho and his men.
Cholo Simeone has had an impressive season balancing both domestic and European ties, notching up Atleti’s ninth win in a row in the league. and that winning streak must continue if Atleti are going to make history this season.
The task facing los Rojiblancos shouldn’t be taken for granted. Chelsea have made the semi-finals six times in the Roman Abramovic era, and they are looking to make their third final in the last six years by shutting out Atleti and their reported summer transfer target, our beast, Diego Costa.
After a boring 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon last week, which was roundly criticised by every corner of the footballing world, spectators will be hoping for a more entertaining affair – however it is still likely to be a very close tie.
Mourinho proved that Chelsea are capable of defending for their lives, having kept a clean sheet against both the league-leaders in Spain and England in the space of five days.
Away at Anfield on Sunday, Mourinho’s men snatched a goal courtesy of Steven Gerrard’s slip in midfield, and then defended their lead by parking what Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers referred to as ‘2 buses’.
Atletico know how important it is to keep up their record of fewest goals conceded in the Champions League this season, and will look to snatch a vital away goal at the earliest opportunity.
“The confidence is always there – especially in the semi-final of the Champions League. My players are excited,” Simeone said at the pre-match press conference.
“We know we’ll have to work hard in a very difficult game – we’ll have to put in an enormous effort to get the result we want.”
On Chelsea’s defensive displays in recent games, Simeone sounded impressed.
“I’m a football man. I respect different ways of setting out the team. It’s about what is best for the specific game or opposition. To defend well is not easy, so I congratulate teams who do that well.”
Captain Gabi is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the first leg, whilst Frank Lampard also misses the game for Chelsea for the same reason.
Petr Cech could make an unlikely return from injury – he dislocated his shoulder in the first-leg. John Terry is set to make a comeback for Chelsea in defence, after also hobbling out of the game last Tuesday.
Arda Turan is doubtful with a groin injury.
One card away from suspension
Emiliano Insúa, Koke and Juanfran will miss the final if they are booked.
Atlético Madrid match selections:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Juanfran, Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Miranda, Giménez, Insúa, Manquillo
Midfielders: Tiago, Mario, Koke, Arda, Raúl García, Sosa, Rodríguez, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa