Chelsea FC have been matched up with Spanish club Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. The two clubs last met in the UEFA Super Cup in August of 2012 which the Spanish club dominated 5-1 on the back of a Radamel Falcao hat-trick. Since then, Falcao has departed for “greener” pastures in Monaco but he has been replaced with another dangerous striker in Chelsea target Diego Costa. Costa has been injured a for a few weeks but should be fit and ready to go when the sides face off in about ten days from now.
Atletico Madrid went undefeated in a group that featured Zenit St. Petersburg, Austria Vienna, and FC Porto and only drew against Zenit when they had the top spot in the group all sewn up. They went on to face AC Milan and after a tough 1-0 win in Milan courtesy of Diego Costa, they returned to Madrid for the second leg and destroyed a hapless Milan side 4-1. Atletico was paired with La Liga rivals FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals, a side they have not beaten in over four years and have yet to beat this season despite having their best domestic season in many years.
The first leg was a tense affair that saw Diego Costa limp off with injury early in the first half to be replaced by Diego. The substitute would open the scoring with an absolute golazo in the 56th minute and even though Neymar equalized in the 70th, Atletico Madrid had a precious away goal going in to the second leg at home. The second leg was bizarre as Atletico somehow hit all three sides of the goal in the first 20 minutes though they did score to take an early lead. Atletico could not further their lead but one goal was enough for them to finally overcome their rivals.
Atletico Madrid play a defensive, counter attacking style similar to Chelsea and this tie should be a fascinating and cagey affair. While this tie may not feature the starpower of Real Madrid-Bayern Munich, it will be every bit as explosive and exciting. The first leg is on April 22nd in Madrid and the return leg is on April 30th at Stamford Bridge.
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