Tonight in Madrid Chelsea and Atletico played a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup. The match had very little intrigue as Chelsea was happy to defend for the entirety of the game, and Atletico created very few chances. The tie will be decided in London in the second leg and will be a contentious tie after tensions grew between the sides in tonight’s match.
A couple of very interesting storylines were brought into this matchup. The first being the situation of Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is owned by Chelsea and only on loan in the Spanish Capital. It was first reported that he would not be able to face his parent club, because there would be a fee imposed that Atletico could not afford. However, this rumor was quickly squashed by UEFA, who made it clear that any fee could not be enforced that would diminish the quality of play in their elite competition. Another story to watch was the play of Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, as he returns to his childhood club Atletico. He first came to prominence for the Madrid side and became their captain at the age of 19.
The two clubs have a very similar style playing very physical and defensively minded. The defensive mindset was even shown in the lineup Chelsea chose, with the exclusion of attacking stalwarts Eden Hazard and Oscar, however Hazard’s absence was due to injury. In the first part of the first half, Chelsea looked content to sit back and defend failing to even put together a decent counter attack. Atletico had most of the ball, but never really created any clear-cut chances on goal. In the 15th minute, the London side took a major blow as their goalkeeper Petr Cech had to be taken off after falling very awkwardly on his shoulder defending a corner.
The first half was completely dominated by Atletico, with all the possession and they were never truly being challenged by Chelsea. Only twice did replacement keeper Mark Shwarzer have to make a save in the first half. The second half started off the same as the first with Atletico dominating possession and Chelsea happy to let them. The defending by Chelsea was superb, as any crosses rarely challenged them, even though they continued to come in at a rapid pace. Another blow was dealt to the Blues around the 70th minute, as captain John Terry picked up a foot injury and had to be taken off. The loss of Terry was evident as Atletico began to show more vigor in their attacks immediately after his replacement.
Overall nothing was really decided in Madrid as Atletico drew with Chelsea 0-0. For Chelsea the loss of Cech and Terry loom very large as it is unknown at this point if they will be ready for the second leg, let alone the much-anticipated Premier League match with Liverpool this weekend. For Atletico this was not the worst result because any goal scored in the second leg will be an away goal, and carry a lot of weight considering any draw where they score will see them through to the final. It will all come down to the second leg in London next week in what will surely be a match to remember.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius