Atletico Madrid head into Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg with Chelsea having recorded just one win in four matches, and having lost 2-0 to Levante at the weekend.
We have been speaking to Eurosport Spain’s football experts Felix Martin and Jorge Ordas to find out what has been going wrong in recent weeks, and how Atleti will get on against Thomas Tuchel’s men.
A Trippier-shaped hole
Kieran Trippier’s absence has been felt by Atletico while he serves a Football Association ban for breaking rules on gambling. The Spanish side made no secret of their anger that the sanction applied worldwide, and it appears his influence on Diego Simeone’s side is becoming more and more obvious.
“Atletico are missing Kieran Trippier a lot”, said Ordas.
“To be honest, Atletico’s fans and maybe inside the club, they are all very upset with the FA and the decision to uphold the ban on appeal. Atletico are not the guilty party and they are suffering the punishment.
“Talking about the tactical importance of Trippier, the best player this season is not Luis Suarez, Koke or Jan Oblak, but Marcos Llorente.
“Simeone decided to change his position from defensive midfielder to right midfielder and his best performances are working with Trippier in the right wing-back role.
“Without Tripper, Sime Vrsaljko or Llorente have had to play in his position, and the result is not the same”.
A good time for Chelsea to play Atletico?
Atletico go into their tie with Chelsea top of La Liga, but having suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat to Levante, so is this the perfect opportunity for the Premier League side to face a team which dispatched Liverpool out of Europe last season?
“I honestly think that it is impossible to find a good time to face Atletico Madrid,” said Martin.
“To me, they’re the hardest team in Europe to be defeated in 180 minutes because of the intensity with which they play.
“Chelsea fans should be wondering whether it is a good time to face Atleti, as they were not able to beat Southampton at the weekend.”
Ordas believes it is 50-50 as to which team will go through: “I think it’s a good time for Chelsea to play against Atletico but not only because of their last two games, but Chelsea’s performance under Tuchel.
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“They haven’t conceded many goals and this is one of the most important ingredients to have a successful tie against Atletico.”