Madrid, April 21 (IANS) Atletico Madrid entertain Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here Tuesday night.
Atletico are currently enjoying their best season since the double winning campaign of 1996 but even then they never got this far in the Champions League. Now just Chelsea stand between Diego Simeone’s motivated team and a place in the final in Lisbon, reports Xinhua.
The Spanish side go into the game with a clear lead at the top of La Liga and with hopes of a double, nobody would have predicted before the start of the campaign. Simeone has nearly all of his key players available with only winger Arda Turam out because of injury.
Meaning Diego Costa and David Villa will lead the attack in front of a midfield of Raul Garcia, Koke, Gabi and Mario Suarez. Meanwhile the defence of Juanfran Torres, Diego Godin, Joao Miranda and Felipe Luis has been the most miserly in Spain.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will capture most of the attention given that he is on loan at Atletico from Chelsea. It had been speculated that Chelsea didn’t want the young Belgian to play against them but he will and if he produces the form he has shown all season, it could be a headache for Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho.
The former Real Madrid coach returns to face the side which defeated him in his last game in Spain just under a year ago. That game was the Copa dey Rey final when Atletico beat Real in the Santiago Bernabeu and Mourinho can expect a hostile reception on his return to the Spanish capital.
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres will be welcomed much more warmly from the fans at the club where he began his career and which he has always loved. But whether Torres leads the Chelsea attack is open to debate given his lack of goals this season.
Indeed a lack of goals from Chelsea’s strikers will probably cost them the Premier League title this season. It was a factor in their shock defeat at home to bottom of the table Sunderland Saturday.
Samuel Eto’o will probably lead the Chelsea line in what promises to be a war of attrition between two physical and well-organised teams where the battle between Atletico striker Diego and Chelsea defender John Terry promises to be epic as does the midfield clash between Ramires and Gabi.