Atletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points
Atletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points as the Blues secure a credible draw at VIcente Calderon
Chelsea execute Mourinho game plan
It wasn’t pretty but Jose Mourinho knows how to get the job done, especially in Europe. Chelsea had lost three of their previous four away games ahead of the trip to Vicente Calderon and were fresh from a 2-1 loss to Sunderland on Saturday. So, the Blues travelled to the Spanish capital with their confidence fragile. But Mourinho has plenty of Champions League nous, having reached the semi-finals of the competition for the fifth successive season, and his Chelsea side managed to tame Atletico even if not their frenzied supporters. Centre-halves Gary Cahill and John Terry continued their excellent form, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole rarely ventured past the halfway line, whilst Frank Lampard and John Obj Mikel sat deep. It was negative but it thwarted Atletico, much to the chagrin of Diego Simeone, who took offence to Chelsea’s time-wasting tactics throughout the first leg. It sets the second leg up nicely for Chelsea, although could Mourinho rue banking on his side to outscore the La Liga leaders in west London?
In the spotlight: Costa and Torres
It was a big night for Diego Costa and Fernando Torres. The Chelsea striker was returning to the birthplace of his football career for the first time since 2007. Torres became Atletico’s youngest captain at 19 and scored 84 goals in 214 La Liga appearances for the Rojiblancos before his big-money move to Liverpool. With Samuel Eto’o picking up an injury in training on Monday, Mourinho had the option of playing Torres or Demba Ba at Vicente Calderon. The 27-year-old got the nod and the Spain international had plenty of time to take in his former home as the Blues striker was left isolated for most of the match. The 30-year-old made a couple of scurrying runs but little came from them. His potential replacement next season – if the current speculation is realised this summer – was lining up for Atletico. Costa was up to his windup merchant tricks as he barged into every member of the Chelsea back four, but the Spaniard had little joy. The 25-year-old had a brace of headers in the second half but failed to add to his seven Champions League goals. Still, Costa showed a tireless work ethic which will have impressed Mourinho.
Schwarzer keeps Atletico in Cech
One of the biggest talking points before the first leg was Thibaut Courtois. The Belgium international has spent two-and-a-half seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea, and the 21-year-old has been the subject of transfer speculation in recent weeks as Los Rojiblancos are linked with a permanent move for the shot stopper. But it was Chelsea goalkeepers that were the topic of conversation in the first leg. Petr Cech was caught by Raul Garcia as he palmed a cross over the woodwork and the Czech goalkeeper couldn’t continue. Mark Schwarzer replaced the Chelsea No1 which was certainly ironic considering that there was a more in-form Blues shot stopper down the other end of the pitch. Atletico had the chance to test the Australian from the ensuing corner but bizarrely played it short. In fact, the 41-year-old was hardly called into action as Cahill and Terry managed to produce headers time-and-time again. Reports suggested that Cech dislocated his shoulder and will almost certainly miss the trip to leaders Liverpool on Sunday, with Terry also a doubt after being forced off with a foot injury. Mourinho received further blows after Lampard and Mikel will both be suspended for the second leg.