Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-Off: 19:45 (BST)
TV Schedule: Fox Sports 1 USA (11:45 AM Pacific), Sky Sports 1 HD (UK)
First Leg: Atletico Madrid 0 – 0 Chelsea
Chelsea welcome Atletico Madrid to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for the Champions League semi-final second leg tie, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the clash is the biggest game of the season for both sides.
Despite the snooze fest that took place at the Vicente Calderon last week, the tie seems to be tantalizingly poised and both sides will feel that they have a great chance of making it into the Final at Lisbon.
Jose Mourinho is a master at getting the results during big games, as recently evidenced by Chelsea’s fine win over Liverpool on Sunday despite putting up a weakened side, and Wednesday’s clash against Atletico Madrid is one which the Portuguese manager will certainly relish.
Mourinho has, somewhat surprisingly, already conceded defeat in his side’s hopes of claiming the Premier League title but one can be sure that the wily 51-year old has his eyes firmly set on lifting the Champions League for the third time in his career.
It will not be easy for Chelsea against the La Liga leaders come Wednesday night but it would be stupid to rule out Chelsea, especially with Mourinho in charge.
No matter how the season will end for Atletico Madrid, it is safe to say that the Spanish side have perhaps been the most admired team in Europe for their exploits this season. Diego Simeone’s side have enjoyed a magnificent campaign and are on the cusp of making history both domestically, as well as in Europe’s elite club competition.
The following few weeks is perhaps the biggest in the club’s history starting off with the clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Simeone will be hoping for to continue his side’s fairy tale season by progressing to the final against all odds.
While the task looks a big one against the experienced Chelsea side, considering the talent and fearlessness in the Atletico Madrid ranks, progression to the final certainly looks within the realms of possibility.
Chelsea’s starting lineup on Wednesday night certainly looks to be a mystery due to the fact that despite the quartet of John Terry, Petr Cech, Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o initially being ruled out by manager Jose Mourinho, it has now been revealed that all of them have trained ahead of the clash.
Therefore, there could certainly be a couple of shocks in the starting lineup come Wednesday night. One thing is for certain though; Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic will not be featuring as the duo are cup tied while Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel are also unavailable due to suspension.
With the probable return of Terry alongside Gary Cahill in central defence, Branislav Ivanovic could move to the right back spot while Cesar Azpilicueta will shift to the left full back role, meaning Ashley Cole will probably be dropped to the bench.
The midfield should consist of Ramires and David Luiz while the creative force for the Blues will be the trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian. Any one among Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres or Demba Ba could get the nod upfront.
Diego Simeone has his full strength team to choose from for Wednesday night’s clash, with the exception of Gabi, who is suspended.
Thibaut Courtois will once again be lining up against his parent side while the young Belgian will be shielded by a defence consisting of Diego Godín, Filipe Luis, Francisco Juanfran and Miranda.
Simeone will probably start will former Chelsea man Tiago in the absence of Gabi and the Portuguese midfielder an will probably be lining up alongside Mario Suarez at the middle of the park.
Star man Koke will start in the playmaker’s role while David Villa and Raul Garcia will most likely be supporting Diego Costa from the wide positions.
The likes of Diego, Arda Turan, Jose Sosa, Cristian Rodriguez and Adrian are all also available and will be looking to put themselves into contention.
Chelsea (Probable XI): Schwarzer; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic; Hazard, Ramires, David Luiz, Oscar, Willian; Torres
Atletico Madrid (Probable XI): Courtois; Luis, Miranda, Godin, Juanfran; Villa, Suarez, Koke, Tiago, Garica; Costa
Chelsea: W W L D W
Atletico Madrid: W W W D W
While Chelsea were largely responsible for making the first leg a bore, the clash on Wednesday is expected to be more of a spectacle as the Blues will have to attack in front of their home fans.
The 0-0 score is perhaps a better result for Atletico than it is for Chelsea as even a single goal for Diego Simeone’s side will leave the Blues with a mountain to climb. However, breaching the Chelsea defence will be easier said than done.
The match is tantalizingly poised and the clash at Stamford Bridge will undoubtedly be a tight game once again. While the match is expect to have a cagey start, a goal for either side could liven up the tie.
Mourinho may just have the upper hand in terms of experience but Simeone fearless side have proven that they are more than capable of upsetting the big boys. A score draw is predicted with Atletico progressing to the Final.
Chelsea 1 – 1 Atletico Madrid