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Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid Preview: Blues Looking to Secure Top Spot in Champions League Group

Chelsea welcome Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening as they look to secure top spot in Champions’ League Group C. A win for the Blues would guarantee top spot in the group, whilst a draw would encourage Roma in second place to go for it against FK Qarabag. A defeat for Chelsea would then bring Atletico into contention, especially if Roma slip up against the plucky Azerbaijanis.

Chelsea 3 – 1 Newcastle: Hazard Inspires Blues as Unbeaten Run Continues

Chelsea stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to seven games with a solid home victory over Rafa Benitez’s beleaguered Newcastle United side. With the Manchester clubs both winning, the title landscape hasn’t changed for Antonio Conte’s men but Arsenal and Tottenham both dropped points which will assist the Blues in their Champions League qualification endeavours.

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea Preview – Blues Must Be at Their Best to Stay Top

Chelsea travel to Madrid to take on Champions League specialists Atletico Madrid in what promises to be a fascinating encounter later this evening. The Blues sit two points clear at the top of Group C but will be fully aware of the defensive capabilities of Diego Simeone’s men and will have to be at their best to break them down.

The atmosphere at the Wanda Metropolitano promises to be electric, in Atletico’s first Champions League game in their new home.

Formation

Antonio Conte will not budge from his 3-4-3 formation that has served him so well domestically, and implementing it against FK Qarabag on match day one saw the Blues pick up a comprehensive 6-0 victory. With Atletico Madrid being notoriously difficult to break down, Conte will be hoping his creative influences within the team can pose sufficient problems for the Atletico defence.

Team Selection

Thibaut Courtois returns to the club that accommodated him on loan with his place as the Blues number 1 firmly cemented.

Andreas Christensen has been one of the star performers for the Blues this term and could flank the returning David Luiz and in-form Cesar Azpilicueta in the heart of Chelsea’s defence, with Gary Cahill set to miss out.

Marcos Alonso struggled at Stoke on Saturday but doesn’t seem to have much competition at left wing-back whilst the right-wing back debate continues with Victor Moses seemingly in pole position to start in the Spanish capital – despite Davide Zappacosta’s instant impact.

Integral to Chelsea’s success will be the stability in midfield, which N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko will need to provide to nullify the threats of Antoine Griezmann and company.

Creative opportunities against the notoriously resolute Atletico could be few and far between so Conte will be looking to Eden Hazard, Pedro and Saturday’s hat-trick hero, Alvaro Morata, to provide the firepower in what promises to be a game of few chances.

Predicted Starting XI

Courtois (GK)
Moses
Christensen
Luiz (c)
Azpilicueta
Alonso
Kante
Bakayoko
Hazard
Pedro
Morata

Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost

In front of their adoring home support, Atletico are one of the most difficult teams to encounter in European football. Their clinical forward players, coupled with stern defence, make it a daunting task for Europe’s elite and they have reached the final of the competition twice in the last four years. As always, N’Golo Kante will have to protect Chelsea’s back four in his usual combative style and it promises to be a big test for Tiemoue Bakayoko – although he demonstrated his capabilities in Monaco’s run to the Champions League semi-finals last season.

Match Prediction

Chelsea will be desperate to leave Madrid in their toughest-looking match of the group whilst Atletico will be eager to make up for the two points they dropped at Roma on match day one. With defence being the order of the day, these two European heavyweights could well cancel each other out.

1-1 Draw

Header image: “Champions League Ball” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by prakash_ut

Chelsea vs FK Qarabag Preview: Blues’ Long-Awaited Return to Champions League

Chelsea play their first Champions League fixture for two seasons on Tuesday night and look to have a favourable opening to proceedings in Group C. The Blues have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League on 13 previous occasions and will be eager to get three points on the board in a tricky-looking group containing Atletico Madrid and Roma.

Formation

Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 formation is a hallmark of this Chelsea side and his charges seem to be in good form at present. Three consecutive wins against Tottenham, Everton and Leicester have propelled the Blues up to third in the Premier League table – behind the two Manchester clubs – and it will be interesting to see if the 3-5-2 line up works as well in Europe as it does domestically.

Team Selection

Conte has spoken of his desire to rotate the squad at every possible opportunity this season and this looks like the ideal fixture to use the whole roster at his disposal. Willy Caballero looks set to be given his debut in goal, following his free transfer during the summer from Manchester City.

Gary Cahill is also set to return after serving his three-game suspension in the Premier League following his opening-day red card at home to Burnley. He looks set to be flanked in central defence by summer signing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. Davide Zappacosta is lined up to make his home debut at right wing-back following his deadline-day move from Torino, whilst Marcos Alonso should retain his place at left wing-back.

N’Golo Kante is the first name on the team sheet in midfield and with Danny Drinkwater ruled out with a calf injury, Cesc Fabregas could be called upon to add some creativity in the middle of the park.

Conte has confirmed that Eden Hazard will start on the bench, meaning that Willian and Pedro could be given starting berths in support of the striker. Alvaro Morata’s form has delighted the Chelsea faithful, who had their concerns following the ousting of Diego Costa and he should get the nod here over Michy Batshuayi.

Predicted Starting XI

Caballero (GK)

Zappacosta

Christensen

Cahill (c)

Rudiger

Alonso

Kante

Fabregas

Pedro

Willian

Morata

Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost

FK Qarabag are the first team to ever qualify for the group stages of the Champions League from Azerbaijan and have come through three rounds of qualifying to reach this stage. They will be looking to make this game difficult for Chelsea but the Blues have a great record at home under Conte and should have too much for the Azerbaijani side here.

The creativity of Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro will be important in order to break down the Qarabag defence and Gurban Gurbanov has already spoken of his desire to set up defensively at Stamford Bridge.

Match Prediction

The Azerbaijani champions have done extremely well to get to this point and they will have dreamt of nights like this – but Chelsea should have too much experience and guile here.

Chelsea to win 3-0.