Chelsea: Squad train ahead of Atletico tie
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Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first-leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on Tuesday, leaving them in the driving seat ahead of the second-leg next month. The game was Thomas Tuchel’s first European match in charge of the Blues and Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick means they are ahead on aggregate.
Under Tuchel, Paris Saint-Germain were beaten finalists in last season’s Champions League and the 47-year-old’s experience of managing big European games will be of major benefit to Chelsea, who were knocked out at this stage under Frank Lampard.
In fact, the Blues have not advanced past the last 16 stage of the competition since 2014, when they beat Galatasaray 3-1 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-finals.
Speaking ahead of the game, Tuchel spoke about the threat Atletico would pose, saying: “It’s a big test physically and mentally.
“They are a very experienced group, a very experienced club at his level, and an experienced and tough coach to play against.
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“It’s a big test and that’s what we want because hopefully it brings out the best in us.
“We will do it our way, they will do things their way. It’s clear what you get when you play Atletico: fighting, experience, and a team with a strong mentality.
“They are many teams that have experienced that. They are the leaders in Spain right now but we have our qualities and the focus is on us.”
Under Lampard last season Chelsea regularly shipped goals in Europe, drawing 4-4 with Ajax in the group stages in a game which cost them a potential favourable last 16 draw.
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They were then eliminated by eventual winners Bayern Munich after suffering a 6-1 thrashing on aggregate.
However, with Tuchel now in charge the Blues were much harder to break down against Atletico, with the La Liga side mustering just six shots and none on target.
Chelsea dominated possession and created more chances, with 11 shots in total and five on target.
Tuchel’s back five system has certainly had an impact, with Chelsea going unbeaten in all competitions since his appointment and conceding just two goals in those eight games.
The all-important away goal means Chelsea are in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in seven years and Tuchel believes his side are well-equipped to go far in the competition.
Ahead of the game, he said: “This is easy to answer. I love what I see on a daily basis here in Cobham, I love what I feel, and I feel the quality and intensity, and enthusiasm in training.
“The players are eager and hungry to compete and I like what I feel – a strong bond between the players and I feel a strong club.
“I like what I’ve seen in the games, there are a lot of good behaviours and I trust in the quality in the individuals and trust in us as a group.
“Once you arrive at this stage, there is no other approach than to overperform as a group and this is only possible if you feel the bond between the players if you are involved as a coach and I feel all of these things.”
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