Mourinho's tactics may get Chelsea across the line against Athletico Madrid. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Chelsea host Athletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge as the two football giants battle it out for a spot in the Champions League Final.
Heading into Thursday morning’s clash with a blank aggregate score line and an upset win at Anfield on Sunday, Chelsea will be quietly confident of progressing. The Blues have been steered to success this season through cagey tactics employed by their Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. Some figures in the football world have claimed the self-proclaimed “special one” is guilty of playing boring, dull football and at times “cheating” by parking the bus in front of goal. That approach, however, has proved to be effective on numerous occasions, and another Mourinho masterclass looks to be on the cards. The Blues will have to do it without Jon Obi Mikel and skipper Frank Lampard, who are out due to suspension, while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible to play.
Standing between the Blues and a third Champions League final in six years is Athletico Madrid, the only undefeated side left in the competition. They are looking to stretch that unbeaten record to 12. The club, which has played second fiddle in recent years to Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, has come out of its shell this year to surprise everyone in both La Liga and the Champions League. The Spaniards' defence has been solid throughout the year, only leaking 27 goals in all competitions. More goals would surely have been conceded, if they didn’t have 21-year-old goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois between the sticks. He returns to Stamford Bridge to face the club that loaned him out this season.
Expect Thursday morning’s match to be tight and cagey. Both teams know if they keep a clean sheet they will have a good chance of progressing. That means minimal goals, if not another stalemate. At home, Chelsea will approach the game with a slightly more attacking mindset than last week. With the likes of Samuel Eto, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres returning the Blues’ squad after sitting out the match at Anfield on Sunday, the Londoners should produce more chances in the final third and could prove too hard to crack for the visitors.
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