Expect an intensely competitive encounter when Atletico Madrid host Chelsea at their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium in the Champions League on Wednesday (19:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
While they may not necessarily like to admit it, the two clubs share a relatively similar tactical approach, perhaps stemming from the fact that both of their coaches were combative midfielders as players. Both Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte like their teams to have a solid defensive base, to control central space and to attack in a structured manner.
Atletico were surprisingly open defensively in their first two matches of the campaign but have since regained their customary solidity with clean sheets in four of their last five matches in all competitions. It is pretty much the same story for Chelsea, who conceded four times in their opening two matches before letting in just two goals in the subsequent six.
These do, then, look like two teams who are just starting to find their rhythm. Atletico comfortably overcame Sevilla 2-0 at home on Saturday despite resting a few players, while Chelsea recorded a 4-0 win away to Stoke, with Alvaro Morata scoring a hat-trick.
A transfer ban prevented Atletico from adding to their squad this summer and that was evident in their league opener away to Girona, where a tired starting XI was overrun for the majority of the match before recovering to secure a draw late on. With no new signings to call upon, Simeone has had to search within the current squad to find players capable of adding some impetus to his team’s approach.
Thomas Partey seems to have made a breakthrough in his third full season with the first team and has added some much-needed energy to midfield, while further forward Angel Correa is starting to show that he is capable of being more than just a super-sub.
A tight, competitive and low-scoring draw seems the most likely outcome
Further reinforcements will arrive in January when the ban is lifted. Former Sevilla winger Vitolo is spending the first half of the season on loan at Las Palmas, while Diego Costa will come in from Chelsea after a fee in the region of £58 million was finally agreed between the two sides last week. If Atletico can progress to the Champions League knockout stages and leave themselves solidly positioned in La Liga, they will be ones to watch after Christmas.
There were times during the summer when it looked like Chelsea might enter the new season with a weaker group than they finished their Premier League title-winning campaign with. A couple of deals on deadline day rounded out a squad that now looks sufficiently well-stocked to deal with the additional strain of a European campaign.
Morata has settled in quickly as Costa’s replacement and is one of a four-strong Spanish contingent who will be keen to perform well in front of their compatriots on Wednesday. Loan returnee Andreas Christensen and new signing Antonio Rudiger have both done solid jobs in defence, although some of the other reinforcements are still finding their feet.
Conte did, though, say that he felt his side were in “good shape” coming off Saturday’s thrashing of Stoke. He is happy that his players seem to be reacting well to the greater rotation made necessary by their Champions League involvement and while he admits that Atletico are tough opponents, said that Chelsea “will be ready” for Wednesday’s match.
It was Atletico who emerged triumphant in the last meeting between the sides, coming back from a goal down to secure a 3-1 win over the Blues at Stamford Bridge and a place in the Champions League final back in 2014. Simeone is undefeated in six matches against English opposition as a coach, but that is balanced by Chelsea’s very solid record away to Spanish teams in Europe. They are undefeated in their last eight visits, with two wins and six draws.
The presence of Roma, a strong third seed, within their Champions League group means that both sides will be keen to secure victory on Wednesday, and Atletico especially so in their European debut at the Wanda Metropolitano. But in truth, a tight, competitive and low-scoring draw seems the most likely outcome.
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
- Back the draw @ 23/10 with Bet365 or Unibet.
- Bet on 2-3 goals on the exact total goals market @ best odds of 11/10 with SunBets.
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