The UEFA Champions League returns this week for the second matchweek of the 2017/18 season and one of the most anticipated ties comes in Group G. It’s being named the ‘Diego Costa Derby’ as the Spanish striker’s current club make the trip to his home country to face the club he will join in January. Chelsea are the first Champions League visitors to the Wanda Metropolitano as they face Atletico Madrid. We take a look at the five battles across the pitch which will go a long way to deciding the winners of this huge European match.
Diego Godin vs Alvaro Morata
One of the key battles in this match will come in Atletico’s defensive third as the Spanish side look to contain one of Europe’s in-form strikers. Alvaro Morata bagged a hat-trick in his last match and will be looking to open his Champions League account for his new side. Diego Godin has the job of trying to keep him quiet and the Uruguayan centre-back is no slouch when it comes to handling top forwards. With experience of managing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi among others, Godin will need to be on top of his game to ensure Morata doesn’t add to the three goals he scored against Stoke City.
Filipe Luis vs Eden Hazard
Another mouthwatering clash involves a different Atleti defender and how he must make sure Eden Hazard, who is returning from injury, stays quiet throughout the match. The Belgian winger can damage teams when he is given space and time but Filipe Luis is one of the best full-backs in the world and won’t be drawn into his fancy flicks and tricks. The Brazilian left-back must be careful of bombing forward too much as he will leave his position well exposed if Chelsea counter-attack, giving Hazard the space and time he loves.
Koke vs N’Golo Kante
Despite this game being just N’Golo Kante’s second match in European competition, it can’t take him long to adapt or the Blues could be in trouble. He is up against one of Europe’s best box-to-box midfielders in Koke and a player that has bags of Champions League experience. The Spaniard will have his work cut out against the energetic Kante, who won’t give him a minute’s peace throughout the match. It is important that the Frenchman doesn’t get sucked into man-marking instead of just playing his own game as this could be the battle that ultimately decides the outcome of the match.
Juanfran vs Marcos Alonso
Since Antonio Conte’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, it has been made clear that he loves attacking wing-backs and Marcos Alonso typifies this. The Real Madrid academy graduate will be desperate to get one over on Los Blancos’ local rivals but the defensive capabilities of Juanfran will be in his way. The Atletico full-back also loves to get forward at every opportunity so this could turn out to be one of the most fast-paced battles of the tie as both players will need to defend and attack against one another. It is vital that neither of them get caught out of position in the process.
Antoine Griezmann vs David Luiz
If they want any chance of winning, this is the battle that Atletico need to make sure they win as Antoine Griezmann is absolutely unplayable on his day. However, David Luiz is a very capable defender and won’t be frightened by the pace and trickery of the Frenchman. Although he broke his wrist in their last match against Arsenal, the attitude of Luiz won’t stop him from featuring in this game and if anything, will give him more motivation to perform to his best. Griezmann will need a strong performance but David Luiz will need an even stronger one to contain him and this could where the match is won or lost for both sides.