The team sheets have been submitted, and the names upon them were these:
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Savic, Felipe, Hermoso, Llorente, Koke, Lemar, Saul, Correa, Joao Felix, Suarez. Subs: Grbic, Kondogbia, Torreira, Renan Lodi, Dembele, Vitolo, Camello, Garcia, Sanchez, San Roman.
Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Werner, Giroud. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Kante, Abraham, Pulisic, Caballero, Zouma, Chilwell, Ziyech, Gilmour, James, Havertz, Emerson Palmieri.
Referee: Felix Brych.
If you’re only as good as your last game Chelsea are in luck, because Atletico lost 2-0 to Levante at the weekend. In every other way, though, they’re in for a very tough night. “It’s clear what you get when you play Atlético: fighting, experience and a team with a strong mentality,” says Tommy Tuchel. Sure, the game’s relocation to Bucharest is quite handy, but even so this is not an easy assignment – for either team. “Take my word for it: it’s not easy to play for Cholo,” Filipe Luis said of Diego Simeone to Sid Lowe this week. “He has zero sentimentality. None. He decides what he has to decide to win.” As for Simeone, he called Tuchel a “great coach who always makes his teams play well, wherever he goes”, and added that he “comes to a club that is very strong economically”, which could either be a bland statement of fact or a bit of a dig at the source of their wealth and subsequent success depending on how you look at it, but I’m going with the latter.
Atletico have a few injury-enforced absentees, including Jose Gimenez and Yannick Carrasco, while Chelsea have left Thiago Silva at home, but any match with Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech on its list of likely participants is a match I want to be watching.
Before we get the chance to do that, though, here’s a first instalment of pre-match reading, with more to come: