Scene of the game: There was cheer when the ball was in the goal after Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick in the 68th minute of the game. But only briefly. The attacker of the FC Chelsea stood so far ahead that hardly anyone was surprised at the wizard’s flag raised. And yet the hit counted. How can that be? A few more lines are required to explain this, you can find them in the paragraph »Lifted«.
The first half: She showed that Diego can defend Simeone’s allegiance if she is asked to. Chelsea, with far more possession of the ball, looked in vain for ways through the massive defensive formation. Atlético looked more mature, smarter, quite polished. Initiated as a result of high pressings depending on the situation Luis Suarez the two best opportunities. Once Thomas Lemar crossed a cross from the Uruguayan past the far post, and once it was Suárez himself after a one-two who didn’t hit the ball properly. Had spectators been allowed, the Atlético fans would have said on the way to the sausage stand: “There was more in there.”
Safety first: The main problem with the blues was the lack of tempo; Chelsea counterattacks were so rare that Thomas Tuchel had given a clear route: Safety first. Second. And third.
The second half: Had to be played, if only to see whether there were any new targets from Tuchel or whether the offensive strike would continue. If it wasn’t, is the shortened answer. Chelsea were the more active team, shifting the side of the game again and again, but there were still no opportunities, Diego Simeone’s merciless 5-3-2 system worked for a long time. Until the 68th minute.
Lifted: Giroud scored every 28 minutes in this Champions League season. Against Atlético, it took the French more than twice as long. Chelsea came over the left side with speed, the ball sharply into the center. Atlético defender Mario Hermoso intervened and provided the template for Giroud’s air show with a failed rescue operation. Then the flag, the whistle, the long wait. Because Marco Fritz, the video referee, took a long time to examine the scene from several perspectives and, to the displeasure of Simeone and Co., came to the tough but correct decision: Conscious defensive action by Hermoso, the goal counts.
Place of the game: Romania’s capital welcomed the league leaders out Spain (five hours flight), who had the right to home, as well as the fifth place from the island (six hours flight). Madrid against London in Bucharest – that sounds so strange these days in European professional football. Simeone had never lost a (real) home game with Atlético in the knockout phase of the royal class. Curiously, the last team to win against Atléti as a guest was Chelsea. Back then, however, in the group stage.
Weeks of Truth: Chelsea stays against Manchester United and Liverpool in top game mode. Leader Atlético is waiting for an appearance at the sixth Villarreal and the derby against Real. Both teams are facing possibly decisive games – not only in a direct duel to stay in the Champions League. The second leg will take place on March 17th. Then the Madrilenians have to tinker with their playing style. They didn’t have a single shot on target on Tuesday.