Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone ‘rolled out the red carpet’ for Chelsea – it was a big mistake
Chelsea hold the advantage in their Champions League last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid after scoring a vital away goal, in the unfamiliar setting of Bucharest and not the Spanish capital due to Covid-19 restrictions. Listen to the latest Eurosport x Beautiful Game podcast now on all major platforms – just search Game of Opinions!
'Atletico gave Chelsea too much respect', Simeone's season 'could slip away'
Diego Simeone reverted to his trusted defensive tactics that have carried Atleti to two Champions League finals, but his plan backfired when Olivier Giroud netted a superb acrobatic effort.
It compounded a disappointing period for the ‘hosts’ – trying to prevent an away goal despite the match taking place in Romania due to Covid-19 restrictions – who have also invited Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla back into the Liga title race in recent weeks.
Eurosport’s Pete Sharland joined the entire Beautiful Game ensemble of Justin Cole, Dotun Abijoh and Deji Odedina to talk through the latest action from Europe's premier competition. And it was events in Bucharest that had the panel most fizzed up.
“Atletico rolled out the red carpet for Chelsea and there was no reason for it,” said Odedina.
“They played three at the back, 3-5-2, but it was a negative one. Thomas Lemar was stuck at left-back for far too long.
“This is a team with good talent. If they took the game to Chelsea, they could cause them problems with [Luis] Suarez, [Joao] Felix, Lemar...
The mindset and mentality from the coach contributed to a dour affair on their part. They gave Chelsea too much respect.
“Chelsea didn’t cause too many problems but when you play that style of football, you invite pressure. And you end up looking a bit of a clown when it doesn’t go for you.
“Atletico were playing the style of football that they played five-six years ago but with a different profile of player – players who can’t cope with it.”
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Chelsea will now be heavy favourites for the return leg on March 17, while Simeone’s side know they must score at least once at Stamford Bridge to stay in the competition.
“It’s a massive win for Chelsea. It’s their biggest win under Thomas Tuchel. It is also meaningless unless they can follow it through in the second leg,” said Sharland.
“This season, Simeone has been getting a lot of credit for the way he’s brought about a revolution in the way Atletico are playing.
“They’ve been a lot more expansive, a lot more exciting to watch. And he just went back to the old days of Dirty Diego. There wasn’t really a reason for it. I understand it’s been over a month since they’ve kept a clean sheet, I understand he’s panicking a bit and they were missing a lot of key players.
"But the best team in Spain playing, maybe, the fifth best team in England. You’ve got to be more bold.”
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