Chelsea ground out a 0-0 draw with Atletico to put themselves in charge of their Champions League semi-final with the La Liga leaders. That result did come at a cost, with four players now ruled out of the return game through suspension or injury.
John Terry and Petr Cech picked up injuries that will rule them out of the rest of the Premier League season at least, while Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel both picked up bookings that put them out of the second leg.
Despite conceding much of the possession to Atletico and losing Cech with just 15 minutes gone, Chelsea kept an important clean sheet. That puts them in control ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge, but they’ll need to be just as resolute in defence with an away goal for Atletico liable to change things completely.
That task will be even harder without Cech and Terry, who will only feature again this season if Chelsea reach the Champions League final on 24th May in Lisbon. That is a possibility, given their great performance in Madrid.
The Blues made it clear from the start that they were going to keep things tight. Lampard, Mikel and David Luiz lined up in midfield, while Willian and Ramires played out wide. That five played very deep, blocking Atletico at every opportunity and taking few risks going forward.
Chelsea suffered a blow early on, when David Luiz shoved Raul Garcia while defending a corner, and the forward clattered in to Cech. The goalkeeper landed awkwardly, and suffered a dislocated shoulder. Mark Schwarzer, who was at fault for one of the goals in the weekend defeat to Sunderland, came on to play the remaining 70 minutes.
Despite giving Atletico almost 70% of the possession, the Spaniards didn’t really produce any opportunities of note. Chelsea had very few chances, with Fernando Torres left isolated up front on his return to his hometown club.
John Terry went off after 73 minutes after a collision with Luiz, but up until then the captain had a very good game. He, along with Gary Cahill, kept Chelsea target Diego Costa quiet. The hosts rallied when Terry went off, Arda Turan missed a good chance and Gabi sent a free kick into the arms of Schwarzer. Chelsea held out, and they know they’re a home win away from a Champions League final.
After the game Mourinho confirmed their injury problems, and said that he may play a weakened team in this weekend’s clash with Liverpool. “When the Premier League decide to put that Liverpool game on Sunday, when Liverpool refuse to play on a Saturday, it is a decision I have to make with the club, if the club wants to go with everything in direction of the Champions League I am ready for that.”
“The Premier League should [fight for our match to be played on Saturday]. We have a big match on Wednesday that can give Chelsea another Champions League final, we ask, ask and asked again to play on the Saturday. I know what I would do, but I’m not the club. I have to speak with the club.”
LCN Man of the match: Gary Cahill