Atletico Madrid lost 1-0 to Chelsea tonight in Bucharest in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. The match was unable to be played in Spain due to covid-19 regulations, meaning Los Rojiblancos effectively ceded home advantage.
Atletico came into the tie on the back of a tough week, where they missed the opportunity to pull away from the cabal of teams chasing their crown in La Liga. They drew with and then lost to Levante, enabling Real Madrid to move within three points of them and also giving rope to both Sevilla and Barcelona. The title race, it seems, isn’t quite wrapped up.
Fair play to Diego Simeone. His side have 28 shots/11 on target against Levante, but cannot score. He judges that shots are overrated, and instructs his players not to have a shot on target against Chelsea. One team tried to win that game, and absolutely deserved it.
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) February 23, 2021
Atletico started the game perhaps with this slump in mind, with Diego Simeone opting for a defensive formation that appeared to be almost a six at the back out of possession, ceding the ball to the Londoners. Chelsea took the lead heading into the final quarter of the game, through an Olivier Giroud bicycle kick. The Frenchman had pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the box to deliver the killer blow against an insipid Atletico.
Koke, speaking post-match in comments carried by Marca, was defiant when asked about the way forward. “We have to go to London to win, there’s no other choice,” he said. “We mustn’t think about away goals. If we score two goals we go through. We have to go there with the mentality of winning.”
Koke was also optimistic that he and his team-mates could recover from their recent dip in form and finish the season strong. “It’s difficult, but we usually get up and we’re going to get up. We’re the same ones who came from a streak of winning eight in a row, competing well. You can’t win all the games, and we’ve had a bad week, that’s reality. But we have to compete and we have to keep fighting. Atletico always get up.”