Chelsea have put the entirety of Europe on notice, as they completely dominated Atletico Madrid to progress into the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Blues made it home and away wins over Atleti thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri to seal a 2-0 win on the night and a 3-0 win on aggregate, completely nullifying Diego Simeone’s side across 180 minutes of action.
The La Liga leaders were the clear favourites when the draw was made to progress, but they continued their horrendous form in recent months by failing to create any real chances against Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Simeone’s men are usually known for their ability to defend at will and make it difficult for anyone to break them down, while chipping away at the opposition defences and eventually working a goal.
Instead, the roles were reversed as Atleti managed just four shots on target in the entire tie and never once looked like they were on the verge of breaking through Chelsea’ titanium defence.
The clean sheet in this game means Chelsea have still conceded just twice since Tuchel took over at Stamford Bridge, with Takumi Minamino the only opposition player to score against them. 11 clean sheets in 13 games is mightily impressive, but even more so when you consider that they have played Atletico twice, Manchester United, Liverpool at Anfield, Everton, Leeds United at Elland Road and Tottenham in north London during that run.
Tuchel must be credited with the upturn in fortunes of the side as a whole, but also certain individuals in particular. Antonio Rudiger has been exceptional since returning to the team, while Cesar Azpilicueta has played in every game since Tuchel’s appointment. Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have both turned in their best performances of the season since their fellow countryman came into the club, while Callum Hudson-Odoi has been impressive also.
His use of the 3-4-3 formation has been influential in not only making Chelsea incredibly solid defensively but they’re also a much bigger threat in attack and while they’re not yet scoring a vast amount of goals, you do feel it’s just a matter of time before they start becoming more clinical.
After incorrectly tipping Atletico as potential winners in Europe before this tie because of their new 3-5-2 formation, you could potentially now swing that to Chelsea.
Their squad is so deep that Tuchel is able to rotate freely without affecting the quality in the lineup too much and he is so tactically flexible that they are always a threat, no matter who they get drawn against.
With the Champions League quarter-final and semi-final draw being made on Friday afternoon, the path to the final will be set and it will be clearer how difficult the road will be.
Despite that though, nobody will want to draw Chelsea in the next round – especially after this latest performance.