Chelsea – Atl Madrid
The home team, hit with injury and suspension, will play host to the Spaniards in the second semifinal leg, following a closely balanced draw in the previous game. More
With both teams boasting the most recent Europa League titles, Madrid having won in 2012 and Chelsea having taken the glory last year, each wants to achieve victory at the highest level of European football. With the previous game ending in a tie, a single goal in this match can be decisive of who the winner will be.
For the London team, their calendar is perhaps their biggest enemy. An unexpectedly tough match against Sunderland that crushed hopes of Premier League triumphs was followed by the first leg of the Champions League semis in Spain. On Sunday, they scored a major win against Liverpool. Now they have to be on their toes again before the biggest game that is their chance for international finals – or a semifinal dropout.
However, entering the pitch without their goalkeeper Cech (injured shoulder), Lampard and Mikel (suspended) and Matic and Salah (cup-tied). Terry, Hazard and Eto’o are also injured, but their appearance is still possible.
Mourinho will have to show off true coaching and team selection skills to win this one. It would not be unlike him to succeed – especially since advancing to the finals would make him the first man to do so with three different clubs.
Their recent league triumph against Valencia puts the ninth notch in the Madrid team’s belt, a winning streak in their national La Liga. Their Champions League matches have also been successful – without a single loss, they have lost only a mere 10 goals.
On their way to the semifinals, the Madrid team has beaten previous Champions League victors: Porto, Milan and Barcelona. This was in large part thanks to Diego Costa, who has scored seven goals in Champions League this year, more than Chelsea’s two top scorers put together.
However, while Chelsea has previous Champions League experience, Atletico has never advanced past the semifinals. They will certainly try to turn this around – and considering their unbeaten Champions League season, it will be difficult to stop them.
Chelsea, with some players off the pitch, hopes their experience from previous editions of Champions League will help them one-up the Madrid team. In the meantime, Altetico will try to keep up their series of no Champions League losses to-date this season, and move on to the finals to complete a faultless season.