Atletico Madrid have had a season to remember, and Chelsea a week to forget.
First, the team in good spirits.
Atletico are four points clear in La Liga with four games left to play, they have stunned Real Madrid and Barcelona during this Spanish campaign, even knocking the latter out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
Diego Simeone has managed to mould together a fantastic unit which, whilst often reliant on the flamboyant talents of Diego Costa, have also become recognised for their work-rate and their attacking flair. They beat Barca in the second leg two weeks ago without their key man, but when you’ve got David Villa, Adrian, Raul Garcia and the excellent midfielder Koke then you will always do okay.
Like Liverpool in the Premier League, they have almost snuck up on their rivals before emphatically overtaking them, and whilst it remains to be seen just what will become of many of these players once other clubs come calling – and indeed of Simeone should certain managerial vacancies prove tempting – this is a moment that they need to seize. Standing in their way though, is someone who’ll love to take that moment away.
As a former Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho won’t be afforded too warm a welcome at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday, but however dark it is it is unlikely to match his mood.
Still bitterly upset by the manner of the defeat to Sunderland at the weekend and the apparent surrender of Chelsea’s Premier League title chances, the Portuguese will have told his players that their best chance of glory this season now lies in this competition. He won’t want to be congratulating officials at full-time here, merely reflecting on a defensive job well done.
Chelsea can’t afford to be as slack as they were in Paris in the last round, as unlike Paris Saint-Germain, this Atletico team surely wouldn’t let a 3-1 first leg lead slip. Unlike PSG though, they surely won’t be given the chances to score three goals.
Under 2.5 goals looks to be the banker that the 1.50 price suggests, and so under 1.5 goals could well be the way to go at 2.50. If you’re feeling flush then spreading out your stakes across 1-0 Atletico (6.00), 1-0 Chelsea (9.50) and 0-0 (6.75) could land a return, too.
Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been cleared to play against his parent club Chelsea, but the hosts are sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Arda Turan, who has recently had a groin problem.
Chelsea are likely to again be without Eden Hazard, who could return to the team at Anfield on Sunday, whilst Branislav Ivanovic is suspended.
Eyes are inevitably drawn to one of European football’s hottest properties in Costa, who is 4.00 to score the first goal and 2.40 to net at any time.
For better value though, Brazilian Diego Ribas – who scored a stunning goal at the Nou Camp in the last round – is good value at 3.70, and in a match which isn’t likely to produce many strikes then the 6.75 for the first goal should also be considered.
Fernando Torres would love to start back at his former club but Mourinho looks set to pick Samuel Eto’o upfront, with the Cameroonian at 8.00 for the first goal.
Correct score prediction
Atletico Madrid 1 Chelsea 0 – 6.00
Under 1.5 goals – 2.50