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Atlético de Madrid will play Chelsea away from home

Thomas Tuchel, manager of Chelsea FC and Diego Simeone, of Atlético de Madrid, will meet in the Champions League. Free Press Photo: agencies.

Atlético de Madrid host Chelsea on February 23 in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 (14 hours) away from home due to the pandemic and after two stumbles that have made them lose steam in La Liga. The rojiblancos will face Chelsea away from the Metropolitan, in Bucharest, due to the restrictions imposed in Spain on travelers from the United Kingdom by covid-19.

Atlético will try to hold on to the good memory of the Nacional Arena in the Romanian capital, where Diego Simeone won the Europa League in 2012, the first title of the seven he has held for the rojiblanco team.

“You don’t have to look for excuses. We played in Bucharest and we have very good memories « , said the rojiblanco captain Koke, in statements to his club’s media, recalling that Chelsea » have changed managers and are in good dynamics and good results. We have to do things very well ”.

Atlético, leaders of the Spanish league, travel to Bucharest with the idea of ​​regaining momentum, after losing some of their steam in the domestic championship.

A draw and a loss to Levante have slowed Atlético, who have only won one of their last four games and a victory over Chelsea would serve as a shock, although Simeone warns against the ‘Blues’.

« We will find a strong team, a team that, since his arrival (of Thomas Tuchel), has improved in numbers and a team that is very good, » said the rojiblanco coach this Monday at a press conference, stating that the tie « is at 50% ».

To the handicap of playing outside their stadium, Atlético added several important casualties such as the injured Yannick Carrasco, Sime Vrsaljko and the Uruguayan José María Giménez, who had to withdraw from the match against Levante on Saturday.

They are joined by Mexican midfielder Héctor Herrera, who tested positive for covid-19, and English full-back Kieran Trippier, sanctioned by his federation for breaking the betting rules until February 28.

The rojiblancos will receive the English club with the need to once again be more reliable behind, after conceding ten goals in the last seven games.

« We have once again conceded goals that we should not have conceded, » considered defender Mario Hermoso after losing 2-0 to Levante at the weekend, encouraging them to « keep working » to return to the defensive strength that characterizes the rojiblancos.

In Bucharest, Atlético will face Chelsea who appear to have regained stability since Thomas Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard.

The German manager remains undefeated since taking over the blues on January 26, but his 1-1 draw with Southampton at the weekend ended a five-game winning streak.

The man who led Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last season faces the challenge now with Chelsea, whose last draw dropped from fourth to fifth in the Premier League.

« I think we are well prepared (to compete in the Champions League), I like what I see every day in Cobham. I like the intensity, the quality and the hunger that I see in each training session, ”Tuchel said at a press conference on February 22.

« I’m looking forward to Bucharest because I always see a good response from the guys and I hope the same tomorrow, » added the Chelsea manager.