Atlético Madrid is preparing for what can be considered the “home leg” of its meeting with the Blues tomorrow. “Considered” only, as the match won’t take place in Madrid – actually, it will be played more than 2,000 miles away, in Bucharest’s National Arena (Arena Națională). And “home leg” because the second leg of the ATM’s meeting with the Blues will take place at Chelsea’s London home.
With a lot depending on the upcoming game, let’s take a brief look at what we can expect to happen.
The two teams first met in the UEFA Champions League in 2009 when the Spanish team visited the Blues at their home. There’s no telling whether it was the weather or the advantage of the home turf but Chelsea beat ATM with the devastating score of 4-0 with Kalou scoring twice, Lampard once, and Atlético’s own Luis Amaranto Perea also scoring one for the Blues in overtime. The second leg of the game, this time played in Madrid, was a 2-2 draw.
Since then, the teams met five more times on the turf, with Chelsea winning one more and losing two of the matches, and two more ending in a draw. So the score (so far) is equal: both teams won two, lost two, and reached a draw three times.
What to expect?
Atlético had a good run in La Liga so far, sitting just three points ahead of the second-placed Real Madrid and leading Barca by a more comfortable eight. But their confidence may be a bit shaken, soccer betting aficionados say, because of the 2-0 loss they suffered from Levante. Still, bookmakers expect ATM to have a slightly better chance at winning their “home” leg, even without the advantage of their home turf, and even without the aid of Jose Maria Gimenez who has been sidelined by a thigh injury. Gimenez was recently handed a three-week extension of his recovery time so he will only be back for the second leg of the game.
ATM will definitely fight to finish the match with a goal advantage ahead of the second leg played in London.
The Blues are, in turn, won five of its seven matches, with the other two ending in goalless draws. Their failure to beat the Saints last Saturday did, in turn, mean that they also failed to close the gap on Manchester City. Chelsea also misses some of its key players, including Thiago Silva who is still recovering from a muscle injury, Kai Havertz, who was expected to show up in Southampton but ultimately missed the game, and Christian Pulisic, who also missed the Blues’ last game and he might do the same for the team’s game in Bucharest.
Chelsea progressed comfortably through its group so far, but they did the same last year only to be knocked out of the competition by Bayern Munich, the team that ultimately won the entire tournament.