Chelsea begin their bid to reach a third Champions League final on Tuesday as they travel to Atletico Madrid, a club which is quickly becoming one of the major powers of the European game.
Demba Ba grabbed the winner as the Blues made it into the semi-finals in typically dramatic fashion against Paris St. Germain, and they are now the Premier League’s last hope of winning the competition, with manager Jose Mourinho desperate to claim the only major item of silverware that eluded him in his first spell in charge.
However, the Portuguese has cut a disgruntled figure in recent weeks, with hopes of winning the Premier League title now beginning to fade as his amazing unbeaten home record having come to an end with a shock defeat by Sunderland on Saturday. The Champions League is now the main focus for Chelsea, despite a key showdown with Liverpool coming up on Sunday.
Nobody expected Atletico Madrid to make a sustained title challenge in Spain this season, so should they manage to beat perennial front-runners Real Madrid and Barcelona to first place, it would be a remarkable achievement for them and their highly-rated manager Diego Simeone. Very much the Liverpool of La Liga, eight straight wins have seen them open up a four point gap at the top, and the games are beginning to run out.
Fernando Torres could start against his former club with Samuel Eto’o absent through injury. Eden Hazard could return after injury along with Petr Cech, who has recovered from illness, but Branislav Ivanovic is suspended while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are both cup-tied.
On-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been cleared to play for Atletico Madrid, whose biggest threat will come from top scorer Diego Costa.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Atletico