Having already secured qualification to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with a win in Baku, Chelsea now face Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in their final group stage game with only top spot in the group left to play for.
A Michy Batshuayi late winner ensure the Blues managed an impressive 2-1 victory over tonight’s opposition at the Wanda Metropolitano back in September, though the result has been made to seem weaker by the fact that Atletico have won just one game in the Champions League so far this season. As a result the Spanish side come to Stamford Bridge in need of a win and a miracle in Rome as they can only secure qualification themselves if Qarabag get a result in Italy against Roma.
A look at the current standings across the Champions League groups suggests that whether Chelsea finish first or second in Group C may not be as important in previous years; such is the standard of potential opposition regardless of where the Blues finish. As you would expect, winning Group C would appear to be slightly advantageous as things stand, but with Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid all set to finish second in their respective groups a Chelsea win tonight certainly wouldn’t guarantee a kind last 16 tie.
With this in mind, Chelsea’s main motivation to win this evening is perhaps to simply continue building upon the considerable momentum they have been gathering in recent weeks. Antonio Conte’s side come into this one having not lost in November, with their most recent defeat being that 3-0 humiliation in Rome on the 31st of October. In the six matches Chelsea have had in all competitions since, they have won five and drawn one, scoring fifteen goals and conceding just two.
In such a busy fixture period results become more crucial than ever for managers looking to keep their squad energised, and therefore a win this evening is crucial in order to avoid a potential wobble ahead of upcoming league games. Chelsea have another seven matches after tonight’s clash before the new year and Conte will likely feel that his team must win all of them (an EFL Cup clash with Bournemouth included) if they are to build the kind of run that will create any kind of pressure on runaway league leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea’s David Luiz remains sidelined with a knee injury that Antonio Conte is yet to reveal an expected recovery date from. Charly Musonda is also still suffering from a knee problem, but Michy Batshuayi was an unused substitute on Saturday and so could be involved this evening.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) December 5, 2017
As for the visitors, Juanfran is out with a hamstring issue but that is the only apparent injury problem within the Atletico squad. Kevin Gameiro is expected to partner Antoine Griezmann up front, while former Blue Filipe Luis is set to start at left-back.