Alonso and Atletico - family past and facing them in Romania

Ahead of tonight’s Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid, Marcos Alonso has discussed his family links to the club and the difference facing them in Romania could make.

The Spaniard knows Atletico better than most, and not just due to being born in their home city of Madrid. While both he and his grandfather Marquitos represented their local rivals Real, his father – known by his first name Marcos – had two spells with Atletico as a player, as well as managing them for a season in 2000/01.

However, despite those links, our own Alonso says there will be no divided loyalties among his family tonight, as they will all be backing Chelsea to triumph and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

‘He was there in two moments of his playing career – before and after playing for Barca,’ he explained. ‘Then he was coach of the second team there, and after that he became manager of the first team, so of course it is a special game for me and for my family.

‘I used to go and watch, of course, and in my family we have always supported the team he was working for, the same as they all do now with me. I think they will all support Chelsea and try to give me the strength to help the team beat Atletico.’

Alonso’s mind won’t be on his family history when he steps onto the pitch in Bucharest tonight, though, as he says the chance of success here and now with the Blues is all the motivation he needs, even if he knows our Spanish opponents will provide a tough challenge.

‘There is no need to talk about the importance of a Champions League knockout round for this club. For this club, to qualify for the next round is of massive importance.

‘I’m sure it will be very difficult, but we will try our best to win and qualify for the next round. There’s still plenty of work to do and Atletico is a great team, but we will see what happens – we will work very hard to compete against a team like that.’

Due to ongoing travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tonight’s match will be played in the Romanian capital Bucharest, rather than Madrid. While Alonso, who is hoping to make his first Champions League appearance of the season, will miss the presence of the fans and the great atmosphere European games usually provide, he feels the change of venue could work in our favour.

‘They have a great support from their fans,’ explained the 30-year-old. ‘I think they are one of the best in the whole of Spain and in the last few years, with the good run they’ve had, winning the league and playing in two Champions League finals, they have even more fans in Madrid now.

‘They feel it in a great way, I think, and while it’s not good for football if they don’t have their fans in the stadium, it may be good for us, because they really push the team.’