Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3: Three talking points
Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3: Three talking points as the Blues' Champions League dream is ended by the La Liga leaders
Simeone’s Atletico on brink of history
Diego Simeone’s impact since taking over at the Vicente Calderon back in December 2011 has been nothing short of remarkable. After guiding them to the Europa League title in 2012 and the Copa del Rey last term, the Spanish side are this season in with a chance of securing an historic double. Top of La Liga with three games left to play and into a Champions League final against local rivals Real Madrid, it is no surprise that Simeone has been touted as a potential candidate to take charge at Manchester United this summer. His side were at their energetic best at Stamford Bridge as Adrian Lopez’s first-half strike, Diego Costa’s penalty and Arda Turan’s late goal handed Atletico what turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable win and set up the first Champions League final between two teams from the same city.
Much of the build-up to this semi-final clash had centred on Chelsea’s tactical approach in recent weeks, after their goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon – in which they had only 33 per cent possession – was followed up by the 2-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday. Jose Mourinho laughed off the criticism aimed at his side following the trip to Merseyside. “Football is full of philosophers, people who understand much more than me. Amazing”. His team-sheet certainly raised a few eyebrows considering that the Blues would need to score at least one goal to reach the final without forcing penalties. The Portuguese coach opted to start with Cesar Azpilicueta on the right wing and Eden Hazard on the left, with Fernando Torres – who has four Premier League goals to his name this season – up front alone. After Lopez cancelled out Torres’ opener, Mourinho wasted little time in adding more attacking impetus by replacing Ashley Cole with Samuel Eto’o. He was instantly left to rue that decision, however, as just minutes after coming on the Cameroon striker brought down Costa in the box to concede a penalty. Mourinho could only offer a wry smile in the direction of his coaching staff after the referee pointed to the spot.
Simeone, a former Argentina international, has found it difficult to put his playing days behind him judging by his antics in the Stamford Bridge technical area on Wednesday night. The 44-year-old, who hung up his boots in 2006, did not once retreat to his seat and instead furiously patrolled his designated zone to ensure that no square millimetre escaped his tread. Having to watch his team defend set-pieces brought out the most bizarre gesticulations and frantic screams at his players, who surely had no idea what point their manager was trying to get across either. Contrast that to Mourinho, who stood rooted to the spot, apart from when he turned around to wink at his son sat in the stands behind the dugout.