Atletico Madrid rightfully advanced to the Champions League final after ousting Chelsea 3-1 Wednesday night in their semifinal matchup at Stamford Bridge.
For as much heat as Jose Mourinho has taken in the past eight days for ”parking the bus” in Chelsea’s first leg encounter last Tuesday at the Vicente Calderon against this Atleti side before doing likewise at Anfield on Sunday against Liverpool, he had gotten his desired result against both sides (a draw in Madrid and a win at Liverpool). That being said, he outdid himself in this second leg against Atleti, fielding six defenders in his starting 11, and it cost Chelsea a place in the Lisbon final.
Chelsea actually controlled possession in the first half of this match and even held the edge over the course of the 90 minutes. Football fans who were up in arms over Mourinho’s team selection surely felt justified as Chelsea lacked any type of creativity in their possession. Playing two defenders in David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta in his midfield, while leaving Oscar and Andre Schurrle on the bench, left Chelsea lacking playmakers able to get service to their only real attacking threats in their 11 in Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres.
Torres, playing against his boyhood club, stunned the Atleti side when his deflected effort put Chelsea ahead 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Any thoughts that Chelsea and Mourinho had of resorting to putting everyone behind the ball and defending the lead were dashed when Adrian leveled for Diego Simeone‘s Atleti side moments before the halftime whistle.
Thanks to the away goals rule, Chelsea needed to win this match outright to advance. Mourinho, knowing he needed at least one more goal, opted to bring on Samuel Eto’o in place of Ashley Cole, one of the six defenders he started the game with, to begin the second half. In an ironic twist of fate, it was Eto’o who brought down Diego Costa inside the Chelsea box, resulting in Costa slotting home the game-winner from the spot. Arda Turan rounded out the scoring in the 72nd minute, putting the game truly out of reach for the west London club.
It is impossible to know whether Chelsea would have been able to still have their possession edge in this match had they fielded a side where the majority of their players weren’t defenders.
For the Spanish capital, anticipation awaits as the city’s biggest teams, Real Madrid and Atletico, will face each other in the final on the quest to be crowned European Champions. Both Madrid teams are fully deserving finalists.