Real Madrid has already booked its ticket to Portugal after dismantling defending champs Bayern Munich with a clinical display of counter-attacking football on its way to an impressive 5-0 aggregate win.
The first leg at Vicente Calderon ended with a goalless draw between the two teams, and with the second leg being played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea figures to have the advantage of playing in front of its home crows.
But make no mistake: Atletico has its own advantage, one that could prove to be pivotal in the event the game ends in a draw. Outside of a similar 0-0 affair at Stamford Bridge, any draw result propels Atletico Madrid to the finals to make Lisbon a Madrid blood feud between the two La Liga rivals. Such predicaments have to be taken into account, especially when you have two strong teams that play with the same organized defensive mentality, all while looking for quick breaks to exploit.
This is the kind of lumbering defensive affair that can change pretty fast when a scoring opportunity presents itself. Certainly, both teams have the horses to make the breakthrough and Atletic’s Diego Costa, in particular, will be looking to make amends after seemingly trying too hard during the first leg. Costa will have Koke and Raul Garcia flanking him so you can be sure that the Madrid attack will give Chelsea’s back four all it could handle.
On the flip side, the status of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard could also turn the tide to the English team’s side. Hazard missed the first leg encounter last week, but if he plays in this leg, he gives Chelsea a dynamic pace-setter that could give Atletico Madrid fits. Chelsea is unlikely to make any unnecessary attacks to leave their side open for a counter, but having Hazard on the field gives them that quick-thinking orchestrator it lacked last week.
Also, keep a close eye on the managerial duel between Diego Simeone and Jose Mourinho. The two managers are adept at exerting their imprint on any given match, and it’ll be interesting who between the two has an ace up his sleeve to swing the contest in his team’s favor.
Chelsea are short favorites to beat Atletico Madrid at home at 5/4 odds while Atletico have been priced as 5/2 underdogs. A draw has been set at 9/4. But the really interesting odds, in this particular case, is who qualifies to the finals. As the road team, you would’ve expected Atletico to have higher odds than the 11/10 odds set for it, same as what Chelsea is getting.
That’s the power of the away goal.