Stamford Bridge has started to smile again. Right now, the Blues are shining and for the moment the prophets of doom and gloom have escaped and what exists is confidence, self-belief, and hunger to achieve the desired success. Certainly, Thomas Tuchel has got the Blue Train going since he took over the job from his predecessor Frank Lampard.

Atletico Madrid traveled to London needing to produce a comeback in their Champions League second leg against Chelsea, having lost 1-0 in the ‘home’ leg in Romania in February, but they ended up losing 2-0 on the night to suffer a 3-0 aggregate defeat.

Atletico will have some complaints about the refereeing, but the truth is that they were outplayed over the course of the 180 minutes of the tie and they’re now left to focus on LaLiga Santander – where they have a four-point lead over Barcelona.

With Mason Mount suspended and Tammy Abraham injured, Tuchel started with Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz on either side of Timo Werner.

Chelsea dominated and looked to build short from the back with Kart Zouma and Antonio Rudriger positioning either side of Edouard Mendy and Cesar Azpilicueta moving on the right.

Atletico Madrid decided to press higher led by Luis Suarez and Correa.

The Chelsea pivots – Mateo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante dropped deeper to counter the skill of two Atleti strikers – especially the dangerous Suarez.

The forward press allowed James to advance forward from the right with Azpilicueta shielding the right flank and the space left by the Atleti pivots for the forward press allowed Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz to occupy that space.

Chelsea threatened.

While pressing higher up – Atleti shaped into 4-2-3-1 with Suarez challenging the center-back in front of him, Joao Felix exploiting the space behind Kante and Llorente moving more centrally and tried to position behind Kovacic – the other pivot.

But, once the ball went wider – pushed on by the pivots to the center-backs, Llorente chased that down. Now, in such a moment, the ball was rolled back to the pivots again where the Atleti players left spaces for pressing high the center-backs.

The pivots of Chelsea were extremely crucial in dictating the game.

Both of them completed most of the dribbles as well – mostly in the deeper central regions.

They pushed the ball wider – mostly on the right where the Blues overloaded and James pushing up noticing Havretz occupying the position to utilize and Ziyech providing the much-needed fuel from the half-spaces.

Carrasco failed to counter the threat and sat deep but was out-numbered by the combination of Ziyech and Havretz.

A pocket of space was found James would bombard down the right to cross the ball – he attempted 11 crosses last night.

The pressure was on Atleti half and Havertz played in the overlapping Werner and his low cross invited Ziyech to finish low past Jan Oblak.

Atletico had plenty of players forward when Chelsea cleared a cross into their area and, suddenly, Kieran Trippier was on his heels and Havertz was striding away from him.

Simeone asked his players to squeeze things up at the outset and they shouted in vain for a free-kick to the right of the area when Rudiger barged into Suarez after twenty minutes.

Then Suarez tried to play in Carrasco only for Azpilicueta to read his intentions and move to usher the ball back to Mendy. Only he left the pass short and, with Carrasco clean through, he grabbed at him.

When Carrasco went down – it had to be a penalty and so did the red card because Azpiliceuta had made no attempt to play the ball. And yet the foul was not given and surprisingly, VAR did not check the incident.

Shortly after Havertz was booked for catching Jose Maria Gimenez with an elbow in an aerial challenge and before that, Werner had gone close with a shot on the spin and, after it, Chelsea were liberated.

Havretz put up another brilliant display, Ziyech was all about quick-feet and breaking the Atleti resistance with incisiveness while Werner responded brilliantly.

One goal down and Atleti attacked through Carrasco who pressed high leaving James to receive the ball from Azpilicueta which drew the attention of Hermoso. He advanced and in turn, left spaces. Atleti tried to build up – sadly, the synchronization was never possible because the Blues had totally shut down Felix.

From a tactical point of view, Atleti lost because of leaving spaces and failing to overcome the pivots of Chelsea who dictated the game from the midfield. Atleti tried the options of long-balls, but the back-three and the pivots of Chelsea neutralized them.

Towards the end, Joao Felix finally had a couple of half-chances, but one of his saved efforts led to a corner where Stefan Savic was shown a straight red card for elbowing Rudiger in the chest. Even if the German went down easily, the center-back gave referee Daniele Orsato a decision to make and he made it.

With Atleti down to 10, they finished the night conceding again as stoppage time substitute Emerson burst forward and fired past Oblak.

Chelsea’s backline and defensive midfield wall could not be penetrated and they outweighed Atleti.


Without a doubt, Chelsea deserved to win last night.

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