Chelsea demonstrated their exciting, resilient, and slight s***housery side during their impressive 2-0 Champions League last 16 second leg victory over Atletico Madrid.
The Blues held a slender 1-0 advantage following their Olivier Giroud-inspired victory in the first leg – a potentially dangerous scoreline given the away goals rule and therefore a potentially difficult game to judge tactically.
But Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea got it spot on.
The Blues were rock solid defensively, with Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger absolute man mountains at the back. Maybe more on the latter later.
But Chelsea didn’t just come to sit and protect their fragile lead. Tuchel’s side were fast, energetic and exciting going forward and caused all sorts of problems on the counter attack. The typical terrier like energy of the outstanding N’Golo Kante really typified their performance, the midfielder darting here, there and everywhere as he mopped up defensively, before being quick and positive in possession.
It was on the counter attack that Chelsea took the lead on the night, and doubled their advantage on aggregate, Timo Werner charging down a cross inside his own half before combining with Kai Havertz and putting one on a plate for Hakim Ziyech, with the winger cooly stroking home.
Despite the need to defend their lead, the Blues continued to look exciting all evening. Havertz – having been deployed in a false nine role against Leeds on Saturday – thriving in the inside forward role, and combined well with Werner throughout. Werner led the line on his own, but possessed with all the energy of Kante could also be found cropping up across the pitch, running in behind, pressing Atletico when out of possession and getting at the backline when on the ball.
The 1-0 lead on the night remained a slightly nervy score, with Atletico needing just one goal themselves to be right back in the tie. Diego Simeone’s side are often renowned for their dark arts, but it was the impressive Rudiger who instead deployed some dark arts of his own when Stefan Savic gave him a crafty elbow in the box.
Having been solid as a rock all evening, the 1.9m centre half suddenly crumpled to the floor in wonderfully theatric style, Savic was given his marching orders, and Europe’s renowned s***housers had become the s***housed.
The Blues wrapped up the win with another fabulous counter attacking move, this time substitute Emerson turning home to secure Chelsea’s spot in the quarter finals. More excitement, resilience and s***housery in the last eight, please.