Chelsea face their first real test of the 2017/18 Champions League, as they travel to the Spanish capital for their Group C clash against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening.
The Blues currently sit in top spot in their group, albeit after one game. Antonio Conte’s side made a winning start to life back in the competition, as they comfortably beat Azerbaijani champions Qarabag FK at Stamford Bridge just over two weeks ago. Pedro, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshauyi, as well as an own goal all helped Chelsea win 6-0 in matchday one.
Wednesday’s opposition did not make a winning start to the group stage, as they 0-0 to Italian side AS Roma away from home. Despite hitting the post twice, Diego Simeone’s side were unable to find the break through against the Serie A side.
League-wise, Antonio Conte’s side are in third place in the Premier League. Alvaro Morata scored a hat-trick as the Blues breezed past Stoke City at the weekend, and remain three points behind both Manchester clubs in the table.
Atletico are currently second in La Liga, four points adrift of Barcelona. Yet to lose in the league this season, Atletico have won four out of their six league fixtures, drawing the other two. They recorded an impressive 2-0 win over Sevilla at the weekend.
Danny Drinkwater is Chelsea’s only likely absentee for Wednesday’s game, as he is yet to recover from a calf injury. David Luiz is likely to come in for Andreas Christensen, as his suspension does not include European fixtures. Eden Hazard is also likely to start, having been on the bench against Stoke. Despite suffering an injury in the win away to Stoke, Pedro is likely to be fit for the game.
On the eve of this fixture, Diego Costa’s transfer back to Atletico Madrid was finally confirmed. The Spanish striker will rejoin the side on January 1st 2018, and will no doubt add a bit of intrigue to an-already exciting fixture between two European heavyweights.
There is no doubting that this game is pivotal in Chelsea’s Champions League hopes this season, and a win over Atletico Madrid will be a good indication to show the rest of Europe that the Blues are serious contenders to lift the trophy in Kiev in May next year.