Atletico Madrid play their first Champions League game in their new stadium on Wednesday, in a game laced with undercurrents. The Blues are tough opposition for the side who made the final in 2016, while there are quite a few comparisons to be made between the two managers. Both are brilliant entertainment value on the touchline, and seeing them together should make for fascinating viewing. With the pair gunning for top spot in the group, just who will edge this tie?
Not only is this one of the highest profile games in the Champions League this week, it comes days after the two struck a deal for Diego Costa. The forward is heading back to Spain for a fee of over £50 million, ending the long running transfer saga between the two. That seems like the best move for all parties, as there’s no need to keep Costa around Cobham causing trouble, and he can’t really just stay in Brazil. The question is, will he appear at Atletico’s European housewarming, or will he serve his former side?
Team News: Conte could revert to Wembley roadmap for this crunch clash in Europe
Chelsea should take this game more seriously than they did against Qarabag in the last European game. Expect the Blues to be at full-strength for this one, as they can’t afford a defeat in this huge tie. Getting a result here would be massive for their hopes of progressing, and we can see Conte switching things up. The 3-5-2 set up he used against Tottenham at Wembley seems like it could be really useful in this trip. The Blues could start with a three-man centre midfield to dominate space and hopefully possession, with Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata providing the threat going forward. That set up should help to frustrate the Spaniards, and it could be a crucial switch for their European campaign if Conte does go that way.
Atletico can’t register players until January, so Diego Costa will play no part in this Champions League group stage campaign. Accommodating him in their current set-up will take time, so it probably helps Atletico to not rock the boat at this stage. They’re not likely to make that many changes, with a relatively settled starting line-up. That includes full-back Filipe Luiz, who played for Chelsea during the 2014/15 title winning campaign.
Atletico Madrid Form
Atletico Madrid have started the season with a few low scoring games, so it’s easy to see why they wanted Costa. They drew 0-0 with Roma in their opener in this group, which wasn’t the worst result. The Serie A side are a threat to both of these two, with Atletico desperate to make another push for the Champions League after coming so close in recent seasons.
Atletico remain unbeaten heading in to this clash, but can they add to that against Conte and Chelsea? The hosts have plenty of Champions League experience at their disposal, and they’ve made enough attempts to win this competition to show that they’re a really dangerous side in Europe, as the Blues found out in 2014 against Diego Costa and co.
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea haven’t enjoyed the best of times against Atletico Madrid of late. Their semi-final exit in 2014 was the last time the Blues featured at the latter stages of the competition. The Blues came up short in the UEFA Super Cup to Atleti in 2012, while the last time these two met in the group stage was 2009, when the Madrid side were a completely different animal.
- Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid, Apr 2014
- Atletico 0-0 Chelsea, Apr 2014
- Chelsea 1-4 Atletico, Aug 2012
- Atletico 2-2 Chelsea, Nov 2009
- Chelsea 4-0 Atletico, Oct 2009
- Under 2.5 Goals – 8/13 with bet365
- Draw – 9/4 with BetVictor
Atletico Madrid are favourites ahead of their first Champions League game at their new stadium, as they’re 15/13 favourites with Ladbrokes to take the points. Meanwhile, Chelsea can be backed at 13/5 with Betfred, while the draw is priced up at 9/4 with BetVictor. With a tight game expected, you might think the Blues are a little too big at that price, and we think there’s certainly value in going with Chelsea on the double chance market at 4/6 with Coral. That’s even more tempting if Conte does set up as we’ve predicted, looking to take a point from this game and then switching focus to the home meeting down the line.
Roma set a benchmark in their opening clash with Atletico. The Italians may have been at home in that clash, but they were as compact as the Spaniards, with the two struggling to create an opening. With those two sides and a Chelsea team who are so focused on positional play and preventing the opposition getting space, most matches in this group could go in that direction. We can chances being thin on the ground this weekend, and we’re not going to be backing goals in this clash. We think the value here can be found in backing under 2.5 goals, which is priced at 8/13 with Bet365. Given how the hosts set up, and the prestige of this occasion, we expect it to be a cagey affair.
We’ve already said that we think Chelsea could get something here, especially if they set up to frustrate. With two crunch meetings with Roma coming next, the Blues have little option other than to try and hold off last season’s semi-finalists this week. They can’t afford a defeat going in to those two vital matches against the Serie A side, while a point would give them a boost in a difficult away trip. We don’t see Chelsea doing enough to take all three points here, so going with the double chance isn’t exactly worthwhile. Instead we’re backing the draw in this one, which is available at 9/4 with BetVictor.