Chelsea travel to play against Atletico Madrid this evening as Antonio Conte pits his wits against Diego Simeone. The two sides are heavyweights of the Europen scene and also share a Champions League group with Roma, meaning one of the three will miss out on the knock-out stages.
Form-wise, Atletico are yet to lose this season in the league picking up four wins and two draws, meaning they sit in second place in La Liga, four points behind the leaders Barcelona. Chelsea, on the other hand, have won four, drawn one and lost one, meaning they sit in third place, three points short of both Manchester United and Manchester City.
The two have very similar records, and it will not be surprising to see the two play out a very close game this evening, with the two knowing how important three points in this game is.
There are the three things to look out for this evening:
Morata renews old rivalry
Alvaro Morata faces a trip to play against a fierce rival once again. During his time at Real Madrid, the striker will have had it drilled into him that they should do everything they can to beat Atletico Madrid. That mentality will be the same this evening too.
The forward has been in fine form this season hitting six goals in six league games, while he netted a hat-trick against Stoke at the weekend. It has been something of a coming of age for Morata in recent weeks as he showcases exactly what Real Madrid are missing out on following a tough stay with the Spanish side. Irrespective of how often he was overlooked, he will still want to put a dent in Atleti’s bid to win the Champions League by triumphing this evening.
Watch out for the forward chasing every loose pass, making bustling runs, shooting whenever possible and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Atletico to be incredibly tough to break down
Atletico Madrid are one of the finest sides in the world because they know their own game. They have some outstanding talent in their squad but they do not waste their time trying to incorporate a style that does not fit their team. Instead, manager Diego Simeone sets the Spanish side up to be incredibly compact and hard-working. This has seen them beat all of Europe’s best teams at some point as they display just how powerful an organised side that are playing for each other can be.
Against Chelsea, the two are likely to be very similar in their style, with both having spells of possession and periods without the ball too. At home, it is likely Simeone will try to control the ball a bit more than if they were in England, so expect to see Atletico with the ball at their feet more, but they will also quickly shrink back into that rigid defensive shape when Chelsea gain possession.
The two managers are very intelligent and the teams are talented, and with the two sides being so closely matched, don’t be surprised to see this reflected on the scoreline.
The battle won’t only happen on the pitch
While the battle on the pitch is likely to be a very intriguing one, there is a battle on the touchline that could be just as entertaining.
Diego Simeone is renowned for being one of the most vocal and charismatic of managers. He can regularly be seen kicking, heading and saving every ball from the touchline, while things have often gotten too much for the manager who is no stranger to being sent to the stands.
Just a few yards away from him will be an Italian that is every bit as energetic as the home manager. His antics in the European Championships in 2016, while gesticulating wildly, a ball came over to him which was sent flying with a sweetly timed half-volley showing Conte definitely still has his touch.
Hopefully, the two will be showing their passion in a way that won’t get them into trouble with the managers instead letting their teams do the talking. Although, we aren’t holding our breath on this one.
Finally, a quick mention to Diego Costa. The Spaniard sealed his move to Atletico yesterday but won’t be able to play until January 1st. While he will not be able to do anything on the pitch then, don’t be surprised to see Atletico parade him before the game, something that may dampen the evening for some of the Chelsea fans.