Right Forward: Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea
With Mason Mount suspended and Timo Werner misfiring, Callum Hudson-Odoi is Chelsea’s representative in this fearsome three-pronged attack. The 20-year-old forward has put a miserable spell on the sidelines behind him and is back doing what he does best under Tuchel.
Hudson-Odoi has been used both as a wing-back and a forward by the German coach, however, he is more effective when deployed further forward. The youngster is an excellent ball-carrier and backs his ability to take on and beat defenders. He has averaged 11.98 progressive carries and 2.50 carries into the penalty area per 90 over the last 365 days, which rank him in the 98th and 99th percentile among wingers in the respective categories (FBref). Chelsea will be relying on him to hurt Atletico when the two sides meet again for the second leg of their Champions League tie.
Left Forward: Marcos Llorente, Atletico Madrid
Much of the buzz around Atletico Madrid during their 2019/20 summer rebuild was on big-money signing, Joao Felix. The Rojiblancos paid a whopping €126 million to sign the Portuguese superstar, hoping for him to fill in the giant hole left by Antoine Griezmann. Atletico paid a third of that amount to local rivals Real Madrid and signed midfielder Marcos Llorente who was deemed surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu.
A year-and-a-half and one drastic positional shift later, Llorente has become one of the most important players of Simeone’s squad and one of its most potent attackers. He is capable of playing in several positions, including central midfield, right-wing, and right wing-back. However, playing off the main striker brings out the best in him, as evidenced by his ten goals and nine assists this season. His numbers make him the second-best scorer in his squad and the joint-best assist provider in La Liga.
Striker: Luis Suarez, Atletico Madrid
Luis Suarez is exactly the kind of striker Chelsea lack at present. Someone who is ever-present, who provokes the opposition defenders throughout the 90 minutes, and makes a complete nuisance out of himself. More importantly, someone who gets goals consistently. His 18 goals this season are a testament to the fact that age is no hindrance to ability, despite what his ex-club Barcelona might think – a decision the Catalans have very likely come to regret this season.
While Chelsea and Suarez aren’t exactly enemies of old, they both are aware of each other. The Uruguayan scored two of his 436 career goals against the Blues during his stint with Liverpool. He left a mark in the club’s recent history too, when he infamously bit Branislav Ivanovic during a league match!
Although he is on the other side of his peak now, Suarez will go down in history as one of the finest strikers of his generation. Chelsea should be wary of him for the second leg despite keeping him quiet during their last three meetings.
Who makes your combined XI? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!