Chelsea predicted XI vs Atletico Madrid: Tuchel recalls £40m ace but drops 27-year-old

Chelsea could reach their first Champions League quarter-final for seven years if they can overcome Atletico Madrid tonight.

All the Blues need to avoid is allowing Diego Simeone’s side to score and they will have booked their spot for the next round.

That’s easier said than done, though. The La Liga leaders shall be seeking revenge after their 1-0 loss in the reverse leg last month.

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Thomas Tuchel will therefore need to select his Chelsea team extremely wisely as to have the optimum chance of overcoming Madrid.

Maintaining their impassable back line is paramount.

Tuchel trialled a back-four against Leeds United, but will likely revert back to type with a 3-4-2-1 formation this evening.

Edouard Mendy stays put in between the sticks. In front of him, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

This trio formed the formidable fortress that silenced Luis Suarez and co. last time around, so why fix what isn’t broke?

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Reece James comes in at wing-back, just to add that extra line of protection if Madrid do decide to go all guns blazing from the get go.

Marcos Alonso also returns on the opposite flank in place of Ben Chilwell, with the Spaniard preferred for his aerial advantage.

In between James and Alonso in midfield is N’Golo Kante and the recalled Mateo Kovacic.

Chelsea’s £40m (BBC Sport) Croatian maestro replaces Jorginho, who is suspended for the tie.

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Another absentee through suspension is Mason Mount, who will be a massive loss to Tuchel because of his relentless energy and pressing ability.

Luckily, the Blues have plenty of back-up in attacking areas.

All four of the forwards who started at Leeds might be rotated.

Kai Havertz switches as the main striker with Olivier Giroud, following his goalscoring heroics in Bucharest three weeks ago.

Hakim Ziyech makes way for Timo Werner, with the 27-year-old failing to impress again when given his opportunity in the Premier League.

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Christian Pulisic for Callum Hudson-Odoi is the other change to the front three.

Chelsea predicted XI vs Atletico Madrid: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Kante, Alonso; Werner, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.