Chelsea’s reliable defender Cesar Azpilicueta has commented on the Blues’ chances in the UEFA Champions League, ahead of the important European fixture against Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea have started their European journey this season with an emphatic 6-0 victory against Qarabag, and they will now take a testing trip to Spain where they are all set to lock horns with the team that found their way to the Champions League final twice in last four years. To reflect on that, Azpilicueta thinks that Atletico are bigger favourites than Chelsea. In his words, “It’s difficult to see us as favourites at the moment in the biggest competition in Europe. We’ve been champions in recent years, and got to the semifinal in 2014 when Atletico beat us. But it’s too early to see us as favourites and this is a good test of our level.”
Azpilicueta believes that Atletico Madrid are a team that fights to the end. The fact that the same core of the team are practicing together for a long time under Diego Simeone make them even more efficient.
However, the Spaniard thinks that his team are expected to perform in a brave way and hopefully they can put some resilience against a highly experienced team in this competition.
Chelsea missed out on the Champions League actions last season, and Azpilicueta did not fail to comment on that. He said, “It’s a complicated ‘pitch.’ But, having been away from Europe for a season, we want to get this right and we’ll need a perfect match to get the three points.”
On the other hand, the Diego Costa saga between the two teams has finally reached to an end. The Spanish giants have finalized a deal to sign the forward in January, and thus, they cannot field him on Wednesday. Azpilicueta admits that he is relieved not to be facing his Spain teammate in this high-voltage fixture.
“Diego has moved to a new club and we have to deal with it,” the defender commented. “Obviously, not to play tomorrow with Diego in Atletico is better for us. As I said before, I played with him for two years, we’re Spanish teammates, and he’s a top striker, so not to play against him is a little advantage for us.”
“He was an underrated player. I was lucky enough to have played with him with Chelsea and Spain, where I hope to meet him again very soon. He’s now decided to change, so best of luck to him. He was important to Chelsea while he was there, but now he’s moved on. So best of luck to him”, Azpilicueta ended on some positive notes for the lethal striker.
Photo by Aleksandr Osipov