Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea: Perfect opportunity for Thomas Tuchel with La Liga


Chelsea face an Atletico Madrid side on Tuesday suffering their worst dip in form all season, still recovering from an injury list worsened by a spate of coronavirus positives, and with coach Diego Simeone close to abandoning the system that has sent them to the top of La Liga because he is running out of the right players to play it.

The weekend defeat by Levante was Atletico’s first at home since December 2019. It also made it five points picked up in their last four games. And it was the seventh consecutive match that they had failed to keep a clean sheet in. That has not happened before in the nine years that Simeone has been in charge at Atletico.

The performance at the weekend was far from awful. Levante’s goalkeeper Daniel Cardenas was man of the match making a string of saves, Luis Suarez hit the crossbar, Angel Correa scored a goal that was harshly ruled out and Jan Oblak looked to have been fouled in the area when he went forward for a last-minute corner. It was as he was running back that Levante got their second.

Atletico Madrid were beaten by Levante at the weekend and are suffering a blip in La Liga

Atletico Madrid were beaten by Levante at the weekend and are suffering a blip in La Liga

Luis Suarez looks dejected during Atletico Madrid's worrying defeat at the weekend

Luis Suarez looks dejected during Atletico Madrid’s worrying defeat at the weekend

Diego Simeone's Atletico side have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven matches

Diego Simeone’s Atletico side have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven matches

But perhaps the worst news from the defeat was an injury to Jose Gimenez and the Uruguayan defender’s absence for the game in Bucharest creates a selection dilemma for Simeone.

He struck gold earlier in the season when he started playing 3-5-2. Mario Hermoso, Stefan Savic and Gimenez were water-tight as a back three and only conceded six goals in the first 16 games of the season. The system worked in an attacking sense too with Kieran Trippier effective as a right wing back and Yannick Carrasco doing the same down the left.

The problem with Simeone’s desire to play three centre- backs is that he only has four in the squad. One of those (Gimenez) is injury prone, and another (Felipe) has struggled for form this season and does not seem to enjoy the system.

This may be the perfect time for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea to face the La Liga leaders

This may be the perfect time for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea to face the La Liga leaders

Felipe (centre) is one of the players that has struggled for form in a system he doesn't enjoy

Felipe (centre) is one of the players that has struggled for form in a system he doesn’t enjoy

Despite Trippier being banned, Gimenez missing games, and the impressive Hermoso also being ruled out – one of many coronavirus positives – Simeone has stuck to his guns. But on Saturday against Levante he caved in and went back to 4-4-2 when Gimenez got injured in the second half. The change brought about Atletico’s best spell of the game but they failed to take their chances and are now just three points clear of second-placed Real Madrid who have played a game more.

The dip in form has also delayed the passing of a personal landmark for Simeone. He will be 10 years in the job this December and needs one more win to go past Luis Aragones as the coach with the most victories in the club’s…



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