Chelsea is scrambling in the Premier League under Thomas Tuchel and is also on course for the Champions League quarterfinals. Atlético Madrid, on the other hand, lost it all for a while and had to take a break in a European context: Los Rojiblancos lost ‘home’ Bucharest with 0-1 from The Blues, thanks to Olivier Giroud‘s omission.
The match had to be moved to Romania, because passengers from the United Kingdom are not allowed to enter Spain for the time being. Primera División-leader Atlético — who has dropped points in three of the last four competition duels — traditionally involved the defensive theses and Chelsea did not show much in the first half. Timo Werner got the biggest chance, but came across Jan Oblak from a difficult angle. Atlético came no further than an opportunity given by Edouard Mendy; however, Saúl Ñíguez failed to pass the Chelsea closing post.
Chelsea insisted most after rest, but Atlético defended with hand and tooth and a 0-0 seemed to be in the making. Twenty minutes before the game was broken open anyway. The Frenchman got the ball in front of his feet by chance and surprised Oblak with a spectacular override. He did so in an offside position, but after long deliberations the VAR found that the ‘assist‘ came from Atlético defender Mario Hermoso: 0-1 for Chelsea.
Atlético suddenly had to attack, but did not know how to deal with the new relations on the field. The 0-2 was even closer than the 1-1, but Werner again found Oblak on his way. The match was extended by no less than six minutes — partly due to the VAR-check after Giroud‘s goal — but the victory for Chelsea was no longer compromised.
Tuchel’s team will be able to do the job on Wednesday 17 March at their own Stamford Bridge. Before it does, it will play the squatter against Liverpool. Among other things, Atlético must complete the crucial city derby against pursuer Real Madrid before it can take office in London.