Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid
One of the best games Chelsea have played all season was the reverse fixture between Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, which the Blues won on a Michy Batshuayi goal — it may have been the last kick of the game, but it was no less than Chelsea deserved, in as much as anyone deserves anything in a sporting context.
Since then, Chelsea have navigated through a bit of a rough patch and have seemingly steadied the ship. Similarly, Atlético, who have in fact not lost a game since that night, have finally started winning a few games — they went on a remarkable 7 draws in 9 games unbeaten streak after Chelsea’s win — and are still in with a mathematical chance of advancing to the knockout round. They need Roma to lose or draw with Qarabag at home, which is unlikely, but not impossible.
Meanwhile, Chelsea need to win to ensure top spot in the group and a slightly easier draw in the Last 16. The Blues are through no matter what, but failure to win opens a chance for Roma to finish first instead.
Conte says we care about that, so he will undoubtedly motivate the team, though whether that translates to a strong first-choice lineup remains to be seen.
Chelsea team news: David Luiz is the only injury of note, though Musonda’s status is unclear. Both Batshuayi (who was fit enough for the bench on Saturday) and Kenedy were involved in training on Monday.
Chelsea have won 8 of our last 10 games in all competitions, as well as 5 in a row at home. The incentive to continue those winning streaks is to avoid PSG or Barcelona in the Last 16, though all teams making it that far will be quite capable of knocking the Blues out.
Atlético Madrid team news: The big story, I guess, is that Diego Costa did not travel — since he’s ineligible to play until January — so if he is to facepalm once again, he will have to do it in the privacy of his own home.
Simeone was quite impressed by Chelsea’s effort and play in the first meeting, but is confident that his own team have come a long way since that disappointment and are now ready to be the real Atlético we’ve been expecting all along. They need a win to have any hope of the Last 16, otherwise the Europa League beckons, which is a consolation prize that no one wants at this point.
Atlético have climbed into third in La Liga, two points ahead of Real Madrid and six points off leaders Barcelona. The red-and-whites have not lost a single league game (but have drawn 6 of 14); in fact, that Chelsea loss remains their only defeat so far this season in any competition. They are currently working on a four-match winning streak in all competitions as Antoine Griezmann has started clicking into form and the defence, as ever, has remained impressively solid.
This won’t be as easy as last time for Cheslea, one would have to assume.