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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Rock-solid Atletico will be tough for Chelsea to break down

Atleti yet to concede at new home

Alvaro Morata of Chelsea
1 of 1

Champions League
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday

Atletico Madrid and Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw in a Champions League semi-final first leg clash in April 2014 and another tight match is on the cards when the Group C heavyweights lock horns at the Estadio Metropolitano.

Plenty of clubs struggle to adjust to a change of venue but Atletico are off to a solid start at their new home – winning against Malaga (1-0) and Sevilla (2-0).

However, they would have been expected to win those matches and it may be too early to assume that they are going to match or perhaps improve on the results achieved at the Vicente Calderon last term – 14 wins two draws and three defeats in La Liga, and five wins, one draw and no defeats in the Champions League.

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Team in Focus: Atletico Madrid

Atleti's Champions League wins included victories over heavyweights Bayern Munich (1-0) and Real Madrid (2-1).

However, they were not especially convincing when hosting Leicester in the quarter-finals last term and needed a dubious penalty award to seal a 1-0 success.

Leicester did a pretty good job of containing Atletico and Chelsea are likely to offer plenty of resistance with athletic midfielders N'Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko set to be deployed in front of the first-choice back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.

Chelsea were able to play with freedom on Champions League matchday one - cruising to a 6-0 success at home to Azerbaijan champions Qarabag.

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But they will be largely focused on defending against an Atletico side unbeaten in seven matches this season and will probably be happy to settle for a draw.

Atleti will look to get on the front foot as they seek to build on their matchday one 0-0 draw away to Roma but have to be aware of the counter-attacking threats in a high-class Chelsea attack.

Eden Hazard – left on the bench for Saturday's win at Stoke – should come back into the side and Alvaro Morata – full of confidence after his hat-trick against the Potters – will lead the line.

However, Atleti's rock-solid back four and top-class goalkeeper Jan Oblak have dealt with better attacks than Chelsea's and it would be no great surprise if Diego Simeone's side were the second team to shut out the Blues this season.

Offensively, Atleti will look to utilise the pace of Antoine Griezmann and the trickery of winger Yannick Carrasco.

Griezmann has netted in each of Atleti's home matches this season and is the favourite to open the scoring.

However, clear-cut chances and goals are likely to be at a premium and the best punting strategy is a fairly obvious one – back under 2.5 goals and consider a more speculative punt on no goalscorer.

Under 2.5 goals
2pts 8-13 Betfair
No goalscorer
1pt 15-2 Betfred, Hills

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Team news
Atletico Madrid
No fresh injuries have been reported since Saturday's 2-0 victory at home to Sevilla.

Danny Drinkwater (calf) is Chelsea's only definite absentee.

Key stat
Chelsea have conceded just two goals in their last five away games.

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Atleti's rock-solid back four and top-class goalkeeper Jan Oblak have dealt with better attacks than Chelsea's
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