The Champions League group stages come to an end this week as Chelsea look to secure top spot with a win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night. Diego Simeone’s side come into the game needing a win to have a chance of making it through to the knockout stages – they currently sit two points behind Roma and have a better head-to-head record than the Italian side. That means they have to hope Roma drop points at home to Qarabag as well as beating the Blues at the Bridge. For Chelsea, it’s simple – win and they go through as group winners.
David Luiz is still out with a knee injury having missed the last couple of games so Andreas Christensen is expected to continue in his absence. Victor Moses could make just his second start since his return for a hamstring problem but don’t be surprised if Davide Zappacosta comes in for this one. Charly Musonda and Kenedy are doubts but Michy Batshuayi could play his first minutes since before he was injured on international duty with Belgium. For Atletico, Juanfran is out injured but Felipe Luis will make his first return to Stamford Bridge since his brief spell at the club during the 2014/15 season.
Antoine Griezmann is Atletico’s main threat and is in good form with four goals in his last three games so the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill will have to be well aware of the danger he poses. Thomas Partey is also in impressive form lately so N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko will have to cope with the power and pace he brings to the Atletico midfield. Gabi and Kante will have to stifle their respective opposition’s playmaker if either side are going to keep a clean sheet but, needing a win, expect Atletico to set up in a more attacking way.
Chelsea’s record against Atletico
The return fixture saw the Blues nick a deserved winner with Michy Batshuayi’s last kick of the game after Alvaro Morata had cancelled out Griezmann’s penalty. However, the Blues hadn’t won any of their last three meetings before that. The Spanish side knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage in 2014. Goals from Adrian, Diego Costa and Arda Turan knocked Jose Mourinho’s side out after a goalless first leg at the Vicente Calderon. Before that, a Radamel Falcao hat-trick downed Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup as Simeone’s men ran out 4-1 winners.
Even though their passage to the next round is safe, Antonio Conte will want his team to go through as group winners and will almost certainly field a full-strength side so expect a European cracker before the Champions League closes for Christmas.