There should be only one thought in the mind of the Chelsea players and their manager Jose Mourinho as they head to Madrid to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League tomorrow: keep the game as tight as possible.
It is not that Chelsea should be running scared of Atletico or that the Spaniards are a free-scoring team. But, Chelsea themselves are not free-scoring either, and if they dig themselves a hole too big at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, then it will potentially be a hole that they will not be able to dig themselves out of back at Stamford Bridge.
Atletico are currently top of La Liga in Spain and they have the best defense in the league. It is not a good idea to be chasing goals against them in the second leg. Not only are they good defensively but also, as everybody knows, Chelsea have been struggling all season in attack.
Atletico themselves are not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but they do have a striker upfront who can take the game away from Chelsea if presented the chance too. They have type of striker that Chelsea do not currently posses but perhaps hope to next season, Diego Costa.
Costa has so far scored 27 goals in La Liga this season, which is one more than Lionel Messi and one less than Cristiano Ronaldo. Between two teams, who are diligent defensively, he could make the all the difference for Atletico. If Chelsea are not at their best, then Costa might just take the game away from them in Spain, and leave Chelsea chasing something they don’t have a lot of — goals.
If Costa is Atletico’s difference-maker, then who is Chelsea’s? Eden Hazard is the answer, but he has been injured for the last few weeks and is a doubt for the game. Hazard is more of a creator than a goal-scorer anyway, and the problem for Hazard this season is that he does not really have a focal point.
That’s why even if Hazard is fit, Chelsea must keep the game tight and give themselves a chance to sneak a win at home.