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Atlético Madrid vs. Chelsea, Champions League: Keys to the game

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What to watch for in an exciting Champions League matchup.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Tracking and containing Antoine Griezmann

This is a pretty obvious factor for success, up there with “score more goals”, but if Chelsea can neutralize Antoine Griezmann then most of the effectiveness Atletico’s attack could very well be neutralized as well. While others, like Ángel Correa, can also pose grave danger, especially if left unattended in key areas, Griezmann is Atléti’s biggest star and keeping him at bay will be of utmost importance.

Containing Griezmann is easier said than done however, and it might require special assignments for players like N’Golo Kanté or Tiemoué Bakayoko to track runners and close off spaces in which Atléti’s forwards and attacking midfielders like to operate. David Luiz did a similar job against Spurs, for example at the base of midfield, though that’s not the only way to go about accomplishing such a task.

Chelsea v Arsenal - The FA Community Shield Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Atletico’s left side vs. Victor Moses

The right side of Chelsea’s defense will be a massive key to the success or demise of the Blues in Madrid. Former Chelsea left-back Filipe Luis and winger Yannick Carrasco could be huge thorns in Chelsea’s side throughout the game.

Filipe Luis, showing the form of a player several years younger than 32, has made a strong start to the season, and while he never quite settled at Chelsea, he’s always been excellent for Simeone, both in attack and defense. Just how attacking Filipe will be could depend on who starts in front of him, but if it’s Carrasco, then Moses and Azpilicueta and Chelsea’s right-sided midfielder will have their work cut out for them on that flank.

Carrasco, who didn’t start in Atletico’s first Champions League game against Roma thanks to a more conservative lineup selection, but did come on as a sub and has started the majority of their La Liga games, can provide moments of brilliance that are often match-deciding.

Stoke City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Eden Hazard actually starting

At this point it feels like Eden Hazard starting has been a key to the last 17 Chelsea games, but he’s yet to start in the Premier League or Champions League this season. This really has to be the game. He started in the League Cup last week and seems to be fully ready to be unleashed in Madrid.

His presence will be key in attempting to get anything past a top notch Atlético defense that has conceded just two goals in their last six games in all competitions. Simeone’s teams are known for having stout defenses, but this year’s edition seems especially strong at the moment.

Barring any freak occurrences, lucky bounces, or other such anomalies (i.e. a mistake or a set piece goal), Hazard will need to be at his best for Chelsea to get a positive result on Wednesday night and retain control of the group.