CHELSEA travel to Atletico Madrid tomorrow for their first away game of the Champions League this season.
The match at the Wanda Metropolitano will be the first European tie at Atleti’s new stadium.
With Diego Simeone’s side notoriously hard to break down, our friends at Football Whispers look at what the most likely way is for Chelsea to score against them.
It will be a daunting visit to Madrid for Antonio Conte and his men.
Simeone has built arguably the best defensive unit in Europe since returning to Atletico Madrid as manager in December 2011.
Since then, in every full season he’s had at the club, Atleti have finished the campaign as the team that has conceded the fewest goals in La Liga.
They let in 31 league goals in 2012/13, 26 when they won the league in 2013/14, 29 in 2014/15, 18 in 2015/16 and 27 in 2016/17.
So far this season, they’ve only let in four goals in their seven matches in all competitions, as they remain unbeaten.
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They have only played two of those seven games at the Wanda Metropolitano, but both of those matches have seen them keep clean sheets, first in a 1-0 win against Malaga on September 16 before a 2-0 win over Sevilla on Saturday.
There’s no doubt that it will be one of the toughest away games Chelsea face all season, and it will be a difficult night for the Blues’ attacking options.
Yet, perhaps Conte will be able to see a glimpse of a potential weakness in Atletico Madrid’s coat of armour.
If he’s seen the four goals they’ve conceded this season, they all have similarities about them – having come from the attacking team’s left side.
The first goal conceded came in their opening goal of the season against Girona.
After the ball was cleared, Girona’s Eloi Amagat picked it up to the left of the penalty area just ahead of Atleti right-back Juanfran, who was unable to make proper contact on the ball.
The ball then found itself with David Timor via Borja Garcia, and the midfielder played in a left-footed cross from just deep of the penalty area.
It went in between left-sided centre-back Stefan Savic and left-back Lucas Hernandez, with Cristhian Stuani being there to find himself behind the two defenders and head it home.
The second goal they conceded was also against Girona, but from a free-kick, also from the left.
Alex Granell’s ball to the back post was headed across the box, where Stuani was there to head his second.
Their third goal let in was against Las Palmas, when right-back Sime Vrsaljko played a loose ball that was intercepted, leading to Momo breaking down the left and playing a delicious cross for former West Ham United striker Jonathan Calleri to score from.
He was left free in the gap between the left-side centre-back Diego Godin and left-back Hernandez.
The most recent goal they conceded was a Raul Garcia strike against Athletic Bilbao.
Mikel Balenziaga was left with a lot of space by right-back Jose Gimenez, allowed to cross and Savic missed his header, leaving Raul Garcia free to finish.
While they may have all come from the left, it has to be pointed out that the first three were in the opening two games of the season, and the last goal they conceded was late in injury time, with Atletico Madrid already 2-0 up at the time.
But, there is some correlation between the four goals Atleti have let in, and Conte will undoubtedly want to exploit that.
Marcos Alonso loves bombing forward from left wing-back and putting a cross in.
In Alvaro Morata, Chelsea have someone who is hugely impressive with his head – he’s already scored three headers this season.
While a lot of the Spaniard’s goals this season have come from him dropping deep to collect a Cesar Azpilicueta pass from the right, he may look at exploiting the space between Atleti’s left centre-back and the left-back to cause damage to Simeone’s side.
And there’s no doubt that as someone who came through the Real Madrid youth system, the 24-year-old would love scoring the first goal from an away team player at his old club’s cross-city rivals’ new stadium.