Chelsea’s encounter with Atletico Madrid in the champions league first leg on Tuesday night stands out as the best of an elite bunch. Thomas Tuchel faces his first true test as Chelsea manager and the opportunity he needs to ferment his faith at Chelsea when they clash with Athletico Madrid at the Arena Națională in Bucharest, Romania due to COVID-19 protocols over travel.
Diego Simeone's side will enter this match off the back of a shock 2-0 home defeat to Levante.
Atletico Madrid overcame Liverpool at this stage of the 2019-20 competition but surprisingly lost 2-1 to RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals; the Red and Whites have actually reached the last eight or better in five of their last seven Champions League campaigns.
The current La Liga leaders have reached two Champions League and three Europa League finals in the last 11 seasons, and have been victorious in nine of their 11 two-legged knockout contests with English teams.
Thomas Tuchel has barely been at Stamford Bridge long enough to unpack and he needs something more meaningful to prove the good work being put into place at Cobham. Beating Atletico Madrid to a place in the Champions League’s last eight presents just that.
Chelsea will enter Tuesday's match off the back of a 1-1 draw with Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, which made it seven games unbeaten under their new head coach.
Chelsea’s last four Champions League campaigns, meanwhile, have each ended in the round of 16. Shattering that ceiling will be a major portion of the new coach’s remit after his Paris Saint-Germain side finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich last season.
Tuesday's contest in Romania will be the first time that they have locked horns with Chelsea since the group stages of the 2017-18 Champions League, with the English club winning 2-1 in Madrid before the points were shared in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
The experience of Tuchel and Simeone, not to mention the size and expectations of their respective clubs, makes for the feistier affair.
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