Chelsea take on Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening knowing that a win will see them through to the Champions League final. The Blues drew the first leg 0-0 in Spain, so a win on the night sends them to the showpiece in Portugal on 24th May.
That task is easier said than done, with Atletico leading La Liga, and Chelsea could be without a number of key stars. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is out with injury, captain John Terry will likely miss out as well while Eden Hazard is still a doubt. Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel are suspended, so the back five and midfield almost picks itself.
Mark Schwarzer will replace Cech in goal, just as he did after 18 minutes in the first leg. Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole will keep their spots at right and left back respectively, while Gary Cahill will be joined at centre half by the returning Branislav Ivanovic.
John Terry has been rumoured to be in line for a surprise return from injury quicker than expected, but since Mourinho ruled him out for the season just last week it is unlikely he’ll be back in time.
David Luiz could come in handy at the back for this one, but there are more pressing concerns in midfield that mean he’ll be needed there. Lampard and Mikel are out through suspension, while Nemanja Matic is ineligible. With Marco Van Ginkel and Ramires the only natural midfielders available, Luiz and his fellow Brazilian are likely to start on Wednesday.
Further up in midfield, Eden Hazard is still a worry. A calf muscle strain has sidelined him since the quarter final win over PSG, and it’s unknown if he’ll be fit for the second leg of this tie. Mohammed Salah is out, he’s cup tied in the Champions League, so if Hazard doesn’t make it, Andre Schurrle, Oscar and Willian will start, with the latter a yellow card away from missing the final, should Chelsea make it.
David Luiz is also in that boat, and with his habit of over enthusiastic tackling, and in a defensive midfield position, he’s at massive risk of ruling himself out of a potential final.
Up front, Samuel Eto’o is out with a knee injury, meaning former Atletico striker Fernando Torres is set to start against his boyhood club once again. Demba Ba looks to be back on the subs bench, despite his good showings against PSG and Swansea earlier this month.
Chelsea are heavy depleted, especially at the back, which makes things harder to ensure Atletico don’t find that elusive away goal. Chelsea’s blank in the 1st leg means they will have a mountain to climb if they concede at Stamford Bridge. Hopefully the makeshift back four can repeat the heroics of the ones that finished the 2-2 draw with Barcelona two years ago, and who then went on to win the final.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1