A different view
Guest fan blog Thu 7 Dec 2017
I watched this game from the comfort of my front room, so someone else was enjoying my usual seat in the West Lower on Tuesday evening. I parked myself on the sofa at just gone 7pm, alongside my dad and brother, to listen to the pre-match musings of Frank Lampard and Michael Owen on BT Sport.
Chelsea went into the game against Atletico Madrid having already qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, so the Blues were playing for their finishing position in Group C. Winning the group would theoretically give us an ‘easier’ opposition in the next round, although in this competition, every team is a challenge, especially in the last 16. The stakes were a little higher for Atletico Madrid in this clash - to stand any chance of making the knock-out stages they had to win and rely on Roma dropping points in their game against Qarabag.
There are many player crossovers between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, and there were two former Blues in Diego Simeone’s starting XI - Fernando Torres and Filipe Luis. Both were given a warm welcome on their return to Stamford Bridge and Torres received a standing ovation when he was substituted early in the second-half. Diego Costa remained in Spain, as he is unable to play for Atletico until January. Thibaut Courtois is another player who knows both sides well, having been on loan at Atletico for three seasons between 2011 and 2014. If that wasn’t enough, Chelsea’s Spanish contingent – Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Pedro, Alonso and Morata – are all familiar figures for the Atletico players and their fans. Morata was given a frosty reception by the travelling fans, due to his Real Madrid past, but I think that just spurred him on even more.
In the first-half we dominated, and there were some great chances from Morata, Zappacosta and Christensen. Hazard was again making some brilliant runs, leaving Atletico defenders behind in his wake. If I’m honest, I thought Atletico seemed a little subdued, which was strange considering how much they desperately needed a win.
The second-half saw even more close-cut chances for Chelsea, again from Morata, Christensen and also subs Willian and Batshuayi, but they just weren’t going in. The Dennis Wise ‘San Siro’ chant rang out at one point, and I like to think this was due to Dennis winning maximum stars in yesterday evening’s Bushtucker trial in the Australian jungle!
My neighbours certainly knew that Chelsea were having a frustrating evening from the noises coming from our side of the wall. Atletico, still somewhat quiet in the second-half, found a gap in our defence from a corner to go ahead, just one minute after Roma scored against Qarabag. It’s not often that you see a manager as animated as Conte in the dugouts, but following our equaliser, both he and Simeone were as frantic as each other with both teams pushing for a winner. With Roma going on to win, a draw wasn’t enough and we finished as runners-up of Group C.
It’s a game we should have won, as we were by far the dominant team. We played well, but just couldn’t convert our chances on the night, and Atletico’s keeper put in a fine performance. But we have qualified for the last 16 from a group we knew would be tough.
As Chelsea cannot play another Premier League team in the next round, it looks as though the Blues will face one of PSG, Barcelona or Besiktas in the next round. But to be the best, you have beat the best. This is the Champions League, after all. I can’t imagine those teams will be thrilled at the thought of facing Chelsea either. Eden Hazard summed it up perfectly after the game: ‘It's not a problem who we get, we are Chelsea. We are a top team too. We can do anything.’ Who can argue with that?
By Hannah Kurzawski