Tag Archives: Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.

Route to Last 16

Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.

Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.

They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.

Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.

United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.

Team news

Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.

Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.

Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.

Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.

Breakdown and Prediction

Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.

The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.

Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.

This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.

Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)


Kieran Trippier to Newcastle makes far more sense than Manchester United

It seems as though the January transfer window is moving early as Newcastle are reportedly close to signing Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid.

The England international is set to enter the final six months of his deal in the Spanish capital, having helped them to the La Liga title last season.

Newcastle are keen to strengthen their team as they look to avoid relegation following significant investment from their new owners PIF of Saudi Arabia, and Trippier has been identified as a priority target.

The 31-year-old spent the entire summer transfer window being linked with a move to Manchester United, only for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the club to opt to keep Diogo Dalot instead when Atletico’s asking price was deemed too high.

This season Trippier has struggled for form and Diego Simeone hasn’t picked him regularly. He has started nine La Liga games of a possible 16, while he only started three Champions League group games as they scraped through to the last 16.

Man United’s right-back position is arguably even more up for grabs now than it was in the summer, with a new managerial setup and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s form poor too. Dalot has stepped in well, but there are still question marks around his long-term future.

If United were still interested, January would surely be the perfect time to move for him. But with their interest now cooled, Newcastle are in prime position and that’s a transfer that makes far more sense.

At Old Trafford, Trippier would’ve been competing for the first-team spot but he isn’t a significant upgrade on either of the current options and it would seem like a bit of a sideways signing for the club.

At St James’ Park though, he walks in as a guaranteed starter when fit and he undoubtedly strengthens them in all areas of their play. He is capable of digging in and playing defensive football if needed, having proved that with Atleti, but he has also got some good offensive attributes.

Kieran Trippier of Club Atletico de Madrid runs to take a corner kick during the UEFA Champions League Group A stage match between Atletico Madrid...

His crossing will be helpful to Callum Wilson and his passing will certainly help to free up Allan Saint-Maximin on counter attacks. The profile is right for what Newcastle want now too; a big improvement but not a long term investment.

It may seem weird for him to throw away Champions League football for a relegation scrap, but with the Magpies reportedly doubling his wages and offering him a route back home to England then it’s a no-brainer.

It’s a transfer that actually makes sense, much more than the protracted summer move to Manchester did anyway.

Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.

The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Liverpool can put demons to rest against Atletico Madrid in Champions League

It was almost two years ago when Liverpool were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side as defending European champions.

After dominating domestically and running away with the Premier League title in the 2019/20 season, they were expected to make a run at winning the Champions League in consecutive seasons.

However when they were paired up with Atletico Madrid in a two-legged last 16 affair, they found out just how tough the Spaniards can be to beat.

Saul Niguez’s goal gave Atleti a 1-0 lead heading into the tie at Anfield, before a thrilling encounter in the final game in front of fans for over a year.

Gini Wijnaldum’s goal in the 43rd minute meant extra-time was upon us and then Roberto Firmino gave the Reds a lead. Three minutes later though Marcos Llorente got Atleti back into the game, before he scored a second to silence Anfield.

Alvaro Morata then wrapped the game up in stoppage time to make it home and away wins against the reigning European champions.

Liverpool’s season after that stalled, literally and form-wise, as the pandemic took over the main storyline of the year and Jurgen Klopp’s side were eventually crowned champions without really needing to restart at all.

Last season became a write-off for the defending champions as they suffered immensely with injuries and poor form, crashing out of Europe at the quarter-final stage to Atletico’s local rivals Real Madrid.

But now, Klopp’s team are back with a vengeance.

So far this season they’re essentially at full fitness and it’s showing. They have won eight out of 11 games so far in all competitions and have lost none, scoring 33 goals and conceding just nine.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road on October 16, 2021 in Watford, England.

Mo Salah is in the form of his life, scoring seven goals and registering four assists in his eight appearances so far while Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are also chipping in with their fair share.

Defensively Virgil Van Dijk has returned from his ACL injury in great form, while Joel Matip has also returned from injury and continued his excellent partnership with the Dutchman.

Now paired up in a Champions League group together this season, Liverpool have the chance to avenge those defeats. They’ve won two out of two so far and with Atletico being held to a draw against FC Porto, a win means they would be five points clear at the top of the supposed group of death after just three games.

They’re on course for yet another brilliant campaign and what better way than to beat the reigning, defending La Liga champions to get their revenge and continue their brilliant European run.

Joao Felix needs to remind everyone that there is another ‘starboy’

If you ask most football fans across the world who the best young players in the world are, the answers are usually pretty unanimous.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland are often battling it out for the top spot in people’s minds, while some less popular choices including Manchester based duo Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood.

But it wasn’t that long ago that there was another name in the mix for fans to debate about for the podium in Joao Felix.

Felix had a stunning breakthrough season as a teenager with Benfica, before completing a sensational £113m transfer to Atletico Madrid in 2019 on the back of it.

He opted to join the Spanish side ahead of interested clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Man City according to reports with Diego Simeone seeing him as the ideal replacement for the Barcelona-bound Antoine Griezmann in that window.

On paper it made a lot of sense. Felix excels as one of the most creative attackers in La Liga, and has the goalscoring ability to fill in for a 20 goal per-season star like Griezmann in a team that tends to challenge on all fronts each season.

However at such a young age and with so much expectation due to the transfer fee, the deal hasn’t quite gone as planned for the now 21-year-old.

Felix is into his third season at the Wanda Metropolitano and he has scored just 19 goals so far for the club, which is less than he scored for Benfica in his one season with the first-team in Lisbon.

Injuries haven’t helped, while Felix’s love for attacking and flair football hasn’t really fitted in seamlessly to the way ‘El Cholo’ likes to set up his teams with defence also prioritised over goals. He’s had a somewhat fractious relationship with his manager and his bad form has seen him left out of the side on occasion too.

But through all that, it’s still very clear just how talented Felix is as a footballer. Against Barcelona on Sunday, Felix didn’t get a goal or assist officially but he was every bit as influential as Thomas Lemar and Luis Suarez who did.

His dribbling got him out of predicaments, his quick feet got him out of tight situations and his passing ability was on display for all to see as he carved open Ronald Koeman’s side at will. It was just a glimpse of his talent and ability but it served as a reminder to just how good he is.

With Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann both at Atletico now, the pressure is no longer on Felix to lead the line and be the primary goalscorer. Instead, he is in the side to develop and be part of a unit in attack that is looking to go back-to-back for the La Liga title and make another push in Europe.

Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid celebrates with Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid after scoring the goal of 1-1 during the Uefa Champions League...

Felix barely got on the pitch at Euro 2020 for Portugal as they suffered a disappointing Round of 16 exit to Belgium, but with the World Cup in Qatar coming up at the end of next year he has a chance to get right back to it.

Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be around forever and Bernardo Silva may be the man now but he is also creeping up on 30. Felix is the future of the Portuguese national team undoubtedly, but he could also be the future for Atletico Madrid or another top European team.

He needs to get back to his confident best to show it and he’s now in an environment where he doesn’t have added pressure. If the style of play at Atletico continues to negatively effect him then he may need to consider moving on, but it’s so easy to forget he won’t be 22 until November.

He’s got the best part of a decade ahead of him and I wouldn’t bet against him having another breakthrough season ahead of the 2022 World Cup to remind everyone that there is another name missing from that starboy conversation. Don’t sleep on Joao Felix.

How Europe’s leagues can be settled on the final day

A long and crazy season is finally coming to an end, but not before a wild final day across Europe’s top leagues.

While the Bundesliga in Germany is settled, with Bayern Munich finishing as champions for a ninth consecutive season and the top four places already cemented, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A are all far from complete as we enter the final game of the campaign.

With champions and Champions League places to be settled in them all, lets take a look at all the potential outcomes of the three leagues so that you’re all caught up ahead of the games.


The French title race has been one of the most riveting all season long, with Paris Saint-Germain looking to become champions for a fourth season in a row.

Their quest for success has been matched all the way though by LOSC Lille, who have led the way with the points tally since the 20th game of the season. PSG have tried to close the gap but failed to win key games, but Lille have continued winning games to go into the final day of the season as favourites to win the title.

As it stands it’s a three-horse race, although AS Monaco will need a lot of things to go in their favour to become champions.

If Lille win their final game of the season against Angers they will be champions, no matter what else happens in the division.

Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG must better Lille’s result to become champions again. Should they draw with Brest and Lille lose, they will both end the season on 80 points but PSG will win the title on goal difference with the league breaking any ties via GD and then goals scored – not head to head.

If Monaco are to pull off the impossible, they must win their final game of the season against Lens and hope both PSG and Lille lose. On top of that, they will need a six goal swing in their favour for the goal difference. It’s unlikely, but still possible and would represent the biggest shock of all the potential possibilities.


While the champions of Italy are already crowned with Inter Milan ending the dominance of Juventus thanks to the brilliance of Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku in particular, the rest of the division is a free-for-all.

The four places directly below them are all still up for grabs, with the potential of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus team finishing up in the Europa League places very real.

The final day of the season will see Atalanta take on AC Milan, where a win for Milan will not only confirm their place in the Champions League for next season but also move them above Atalanta in the league table. That would also allow Napoli to move above them with a win in their final game against Verona. Should both Milan and Napoli win their games, it won’t matter what Juventus do on the final day against Bologna as they will be unable to be caught.

Juventus must win their game and also hope one of AC Milan or Napoli do not in order to make the top four and ensure their record of appearing every year since 2012 continues. Should Andrea Pirlo’s side fail to win, then both Napoli and Milan will qualify regardless of their own results.


The simplest of all, but the most tense end to the season will be the Spanish league title race between Madrid’s two biggest clubs Atletico and Real.

The two sides, along with FC Barcelona, have competed all throughout the season to be crowned champions, with Diego Simeone’s side at one point holding a massive lead with games in hand too. However a bad turn in form earlier in the season has seen them be dragged back into the tussle and it will now go down to the final day.

Barcelona were in the race up until this past weekend, when a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo meant they now were unable to match the winning points tally but the tightness of the battle between the top two was on show in the matches involving the two Madrid sides.

Atletico were able to wrap the title up during the last game, if they had won their game against Osasuna and Real Madrid had failed to win. However as Real Madrid took the lead through defender Nacho, Atleti fell behind. They managed to turn the result around however, with goals from substitute Renan Lodi and a late winner from summer signing Luis Suarez meaning the title is still in their hands.

This weekend Simeone’s men will travel to Valladolid knowing that a win will secure them a first title since 2013. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will however host Villarreal, who need a win to secure European football themselves next season but also have a Europa League final in the midweek following to navigate.

Should Real Madrid win and Atletico Madrid’s fail to, they will win the title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since their 2006-08 campaigns. Los Blancos’ huge win in December in the Madrid derby means they will win the league should both teams finish level on points, with Spain opting for a head-to-head tie-breaker rather than goal difference.

The European Super League is rubbish but why are people shocked?

News broke on Sunday that rocked the footballing world, as it was announced that 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs have agreed to form a breakaway ‘Super League’.

The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ as well as Spain and Italy’s three biggest sides have all signed a letter of intent that will see the club’s form their own super league to compete with the UEFA Champions League.

While dates and such aren’t official yet and likely won’t be for a while, it was a huge signal that these clubs are done with the way things are handled by FIFA and their respective leagues.

The move comes just one day prior to UEFA’s plans to announce a Champions League revamp from 2024 onwards, that will see the format of the competition change to a league-like structure where each team will play ten games rather than the traditional six group games.

It’s said the top sides aren’t happy with the revenue share from television deals that would take place if it went through, and thus have decided to form their own league that they control themselves.

The leaked news was met with shock, anger and disgust by many including – and most vocally – Gary Neville, former Manchester United defender and current part-owner of EFL club Salford City.

His argument was simple; it shouldn’t be done during a pandemic when other club’s are struggling for money and he was disgusted that clubs with a footballing tradition such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal would even consider accepting the proposal.

What he failed to consider is that other clubs’ financial position is absolutely nothing to do with any of those clubs or any other club potentially involved. It is not those top clubs’ responsibility to ensure that smaller clubs in and around them and the footballing pyramid are financially secure, in fact, it’s none of their business whatsoever.

Add to that the fact that as he has so conveniently pointed out in the past, these are multi-million pound businesses now and they’re being run as such.

Why would Daniel Levy of Tottenham Hotspur turn down a reported £350m plus guaranteed stability in this league since there are no plans for relegation or promotion currently, in favour of less money and less stability? Because Burnley weren’t invited to the party? It makes no sense.

These clubs are doing what their owners feel is best for their pockets and you absolutely cannot blame them.

Is it right? No. Is it fair on fans? Absolutely not. Is the European Super League even an attractive idea from a fan standpoint? Barely.

But that isn’t the point. The point is that these clubs are the reason that the competitions they’re competing in are so successful and make so much money. They have openly asked for a bigger chunk of the pie because of that and have been outright denied that by UEFA in the Champions League.

Whether you agree or disagree is another argument entirely, the point is that they disagree. They’ve now taken their powers, combined them and decided that they can do it themselves. The TV companies will lap it up because they’re the biggest teams with the best players in the world going head to head regularly. They’ll be dripping in sponsorship money and they’ll be in control.

Their initial plan was to directly compete with the Champions League, not their own domestic leagues and that is important. The talk of a ‘breakaway league’ has only come about because the domestic leagues in question are refusing to allow them to take part in both competitions.

But is the Premier League still the Premier League when the biggest possible fixture is Everton vs Leicester? Is La Liga still valuable when the biggest game of the season is Sevilla vs Valencia? Does anyone care about the Champions League if the best players aren’t involved? The answer is no.

UEFA have rightly got the leagues on their side and it means it’s almost certain that this won’t go ahead anyway. With threats of bans from domestic leagues, continental competitions and even international tournaments in alignment with FIFA, players won’t do it and eventually UEFA and the clubs in question will find a compromise.

It’s really important though that this narrative of big clubs having to babysit smaller clubs is quashed. The attention should be on what it does to fans and for the competitive nature of the sport.

Fans would be forced to travel abroad on a far more regular basis for games that are essentially meaningless since there is no chance of promotion or relegation and would simply be to rack up extra currency for the power-hungry owners to spend elsewhere, because they’re not pumping it back into their clubs.

The irony and hypocrisy of people taking the moral high ground when the Champions League and Premier League were revamped 30 years ago for this exact reason absolutely reeks.

Fans don’t want the super league to happen, the only people that do are the cash-hungry owners. Separate those people from the clubs they represent and you’ll be much closer to the root of the problems.

Is Diego Simeone’s time at Atletico Madrid over?

If this had been mentioned back in December, you would’ve been laughed out of the room but Diego Simeone’s time at Atletico Madrid could very well be coming to an end.

A two-time Champions League finalist, a La Liga title winner in the Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo era, a two-time Europa League winner and a Copa Del Rey winner – the Argentine has done it all.

Yet the way the current campaign has gone, it seems as though he has lost the magic touch he once had.

At one point in the season, Los Colchoneros found themselves with an 11 point lead at the top of La Liga. They had a big lead with games in hand and even managed to concede just ten goals in their first 20 league games of the season. They were dominant.

A switch to 3-5-2 in the middle of the campaign managed to get the best defensive performances out of his side that we’ve seen in a few years, almost a throwback to his great league winning sides. It also got a good attacking run from some of his forwards, with Luis Suarez hitting 19 league goals – an amount only bettered by Lionel Messi.

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga : News Photo

Yet by the end of match day 30, Atletico find themselves top by just one point with Real Madrid flying high and Barcelona still to face them before the end of the campaign.

They were one of the dark horses to win the Champions League when the draw was made too, supposed to be going against Frank Lampard’s drab Chelsea side while they were flying high. Instead, it was they who were drab and Thomas Tuchel’s Blues swept them aside with wins home and away and clean sheets in both games too.

Atletico Madrid have now won just four of their last 13 games in all competitions and don’t seem like they’re going to be turning their fortunes around any time soon. The most recent draw with Real Betis at the weekend was deemed a good result because of how badly they played, despite the fact they’d been displaced at the top of the table the night before when Real Madrid beat Barcelona in El Clasico.

They’ve lost their aggression in midfield, they look shaky at the back, they’re not clinical up front anymore and they’re missing the hunger from their entire team that has shaped the Simeone era.

The former defensive midfielder has made the team in the mirror image of what he was like as a player. Dogged, scrappy and with a win-at-all-costs mentality. It’s exactly what made them so feared in Europe under him in a two-legged affair and essentially turned a two-team league into a three-team league.

But now when you watch them, that’s all been drained out of them. He will no doubt go down as one of the best managers in their history but after a decade at the club it seems as though it’s best for all parties that it comes to an end now.


He is the highest paid manager in the world and has strongly considered stepping away before, but it seems now that the time might be right. He has tried to evolve his squad to a more attacking outfit to coincide with growing expectations, but it just hasn’t quite worked out for him.

The squad is set up for a coach to come in and try and u-turn the squad from defensive powerhouse into a potent attacking threat.

However this season turns out, whether Atleti are able to be crowned champions or not, it’s the right time for pastures new. Simeone can take some time off if he wants, but he’ll also be thrown job offers like they’re candy if he wants to get stuck into a new project immediately too.

Atletic can scour the market for a progressive coach to better suit their talented squad and start making waves towards a new direction. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’ve hit a ceiling under the current regime and need to make a change.

It seems as though that is what has happened here. The two have run the course together and it’s time now to part ways.

Chelsea put Europe on notice by dominating Atletico Madrid

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.

Champions League last 16 predictions: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

It’s Champions League time once again as the last 16 is back and the second round of fixtures commences.

Last week we saw the first eight teams compete, with some thrilling fixtures to take us through to the second leg and this week we’ll be hoping for more of the same – starting with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid taking on the Premier League’s Chelsea.

Diego Simeone’s side currently sit at the head of the table, with a six point lead over closest rivals Real Madrid. Their recent form has seen them struggle massively though, with just two wins in their last five and this past weekend they suffered their first home defeat of the season courtesy of Levante.

Chelsea on the other hand have struggled this season and replaced manager Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel in January. Since his appointment the Blues had won five in a row and conceded just one goal prior to this weekend, before they were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton.

Both teams have suffered with injuries and COVID-19 problems during the season so far. The west London side were without Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi at different points of the season while Atletico’s breakout has seen them contend with the absence of the likes of Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Lemar and Moussa Dembele.

Atletico de Madrid v Levante UD - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Despite that though, it’s injuries that have hampered Simeone’s side in recent weeks. Defensively they are without Jose Maria Gimenez, Kieran Trippier (suspension), Sime Vrsaljko, Yannick Carrasco and Hector Herrera which has seen them become more open despite their switch to a 3-5-2 system this season.

The incredible form of Marcos Llorente further forward started at this stage of the competition last year when he scored against Liverpool at Anfield, but he is likely to be used as a wing-back in this game because of the injuries which softens them up going forward too. Luis Suarez has been clinical this season, but his lack of physicality owing to his age means he’s often in and out of games rather than bossing them like he was once able to.

Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge going forward could prove costly. There is arguably no better time to face Atletico than right now but with Tuchel’s side struggling to create clear-cut chances despite keeping the ball for the large majority of games, whether they can take advantage of Atleti’s problems is up for debate.

Both teams will line up with three at the back but Simeone’s side will be content to let Chelsea have the ball. They will rely extensively on the attacking output of Suarez and Felix, while Angel Correa’s pace could also be used to help on the counter attack.

It should be an intriguing tactical clash between two of the more meticulous managers in the game but considering one has been at their club for much longer and has implemented their ideas more I think this tie will go the Spanish side’s way.

Southampton v Chelsea - Premier League : News Photo

Defensively we’ve seen the level they can reach, especially when motivated, and they will be keen to do what they can to win a maiden Champions League trophy this season. We still don’t know how good Chelsea can be going forward under Tuchel and that just means it’s hard to pick them in this tie.

The fact that Atletico’s home leg isn’t in Spain could work against them, but no fans means it’s less of a blow than it would normally be. Despite that, I expect a tight first leg that Atleti nick with a typical dogged display. The second leg will be more open but I think they should have some injured players back by then and at full strength they’re too much for the Blues and should progress.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-1 Atletico Madrid
(Atletico Madrid to progress 2-1 on aggregate)