Premier League champions Chelsea travel to Spain for the second match of the Champions League group stage against Atletico Madrid. With both teams in flying form over the past couple of weeks it promises to be a fantastic European opening for Atletico’s new stadium.
Wanda steps under the limelight
We’re not talking about Mauro Icardi’s wife-agent here but Atletico Madrid’s brand-new home – Estadio Wanda Metropolitano – also known as La Peineta which translates into the comb. The host venue for the Champions League final of the 2018/19 season will now have its European introduction as Atletico Madrid welcome Chelsea in what is expected to be a feisty clash between two sides managed by pretty much the same temperaments. Diego Simeone’s men have enjoyed a successful start to the new campaign despite being unable to boost their squad during summer due to an ongoing suspension which ends in January. Rojiblancos still managed to agree deals with a couple of players – most notably Chelsea striker Diego Costa who returns to his former club after being ousted by Antonio Conte. The Spaniard will watch his old and the new team from the stands as Atletico search for their first win an extremely difficult Champions League group. Los Colchineros kicked off their European campaign with a goalless draw away at AS Roma two weeks ago.
Hosts should have a full squad to choose from, with the exception of Augusto Fernandez. The Argentinean midfielder is suffering from a muscular injury and is likely to be left out of the squad.
Much like their Wednesday rivals Atletico Madrid, the Premier League champions Chelsea have been enjoying a purple patch of late. The goalless draw against Arsenal was the only time Chelsea slumped over the last seven matches whereas the six compelling victories stand as a huge testament to Blues’ fantastic form. Chelsea scored nine goals in last two matches but will find it extremely difficult to continue the scoring trend against defensively organized Spaniards who lost only one of their last 10 home matches. Chelsea’s summer recruit Alvaro Morata will be the one to watch on Wednesday for the visiting side. Former Real Madrid man is enjoying a fine run of form which saw him score a hat-trick against Stoke City last time out. Antonio Conte’s chances of recording a positive result in Madrid – why not even a win – will be boosted by the return of a couple of first-team stars and – one thing is certain – we will be in for a highly-competitive match.
David Luiz returns to the fold following a three-match domestic suspension, whereas Eden Hazard is tipped to start against Atletico Madrid. Thibaut Courtois is ready to play after suffering a head injury, whereas the summer arrival Danny Drinkwater remains ruled out through a calf injury.
Even though Atletico Madrid are one of the best defensive units in Europe, we expect them to be open-minded against Chelsea in what is likely to be a heavily contested match. Both sides are on a fine run of results and will want to keep it that way. And with two fiery characters sitting on both benches, this promises to be an extravagant match.
Top pick: Draw 3.30 (23/10) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – yes 2.10 (11/10) @PaddyPower
Alternative pick 2: Correct result 2-2 19.00 (18/1) @WilliamHill