Chelsea must beware Atletico threat

Chelsea will be relieved they have missed out on playing against the giants of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich but they certainly won’t be taking their Champions League semi-final draw with Atletico Madrid lightly.

Many have underestimated what Atleti are capable of this season and you can just asking Barcelona, after the Blaugrana were knocked out in the quarter-final stages of the competition, how dangerous this side can be.

Of course missing out on having to travel to the Santiago Bernabeu or the Allianz Arena is a massive bonus for manager Jose Mourinho and his men but the Vicente Calderon will certainly be no easy place to go to.

Under Diego Simeone, Atletico have established themselves as a superb side and are likely to push city rivals Real and Barca right down to the final day of the season for the La Liga title.

Mourinho will know exactly what his side are up against and going away for the first leg in Spain will be tough for the Blues, as they must keep themselves in the tie, in what will be a fiery atmosphere at the Vicente Calderon for a former Real Madrid manager.

Chelsea will also have to work out a way to get past their own goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who will be available to play for Atletico as part of his loan deal against his parent club, according to UEFA regulations.

The 21-year-old has established himself as one of best young shotstoppers in the game and the Blues will have a job on their hands to get past the Belgian international, who will be travelling to the World Cup this summer before his future at Stamford Bridge is decided.

Mourinho of course will be masterminding a way to get through this resilient Atletico side but former Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins believes the Londoners have what it takes to progress through to the final in Lisbon next month.

He told Sky Sports: “I give them a massive chance because they look to be the only team left in the competition that can keep a clean sheet.

“I watched the Barcelona-Atletico game and there were chances galore. It was very similar in the other match as well so Chelsea with their defensive set-up have as good a chance as anybody.

“They have a defensive quality that is exceptional. Okay, the strikers haven’t functioned as Jose would have liked them to, but in the midfield section they have so much creativity and goals.”

The key for Mourinho will be getting his striker selection right, with none of the players up front at the Bridge performing consistently well this term.

Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba will all have their cases as to why they should play that tough opening game in the Spanish capital but ultimately it will be up to the ‘Special One’ to decide how to go about knocking out an Atletico side who have established themselves as a real force to be reckoned with on the biggest European stage.

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