Chelsea will be looking to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2014 when they face Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the second-leg of their last-16 tussle at Stamford Bridge this evening, kick-off 8:00pm.
The Blues, who extended their unbeaten start to life under head coach Thomas Tuchel to 12 matches on Saturday, playing out a goalless stalemate with Leeds United at Elland Road, hold a one-goal advantage from the first-leg in Bucharest last month.
Frenchman Olivier Giroud’s second-half overhead-kick was enough to seal the win for the Blues, meaning they have an away goal to take into tonight’s showdown under the lights in west London.
But although Chelsea are in the driving seat to progress to the last-eight of the competition and have home advantage on their side, head coach Tuchel, who has watched his team keep five clean sheets in their last five matches, is taking nothing to chance, insisting his side must win the game and play with aggression.
“I can only think of tomorrow to play this game,” Tuchel said during Tuesday afternoon’s pre-match press conference. “We have big respect because we play the leaders of Spain.
“We did an outstanding job in Bucharest and have the advantage with a home game at Stamford Bridge which makes us very confident because we don’t have to travel.
“The set up is the usual set up. This is good for us. We feel good to be in our hotel and have the same schedule as in normal games. This is very, very good.
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“We want to have this decisive percentage for tomorrow that is on our side [to play at home].
“I am sure that we need another top performance to be very focused and concentrated. At the same time, we have to play a very high intensity match because we are used to playing in high intensity matches.
“We want to be hungry to score. At the same time, we need to enjoy this competition and to do what’s needed to win a big match like this.
“For that, you have to play with hunger, aggressively and at a very high level as a team. This is the target for tomorrow. What happens in the tournament and competition is out of our hands.
“We will do what we can influence and this is the game tomorrow.”
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Should the Blues get the better of Atletico and progress to the last-eight, they would be just four matches away from the final of the competition. Despite the excitement levels that would bring for the supporters, Tuchel is remaining grounded and focusing on the task in-hand.
The German added: “Every team that plays a second leg in the round of 16 can dare to win the competition, there is no doubt about it.
“Every team in the last-16 can win the competition, this has been proven in the last years and this is how we respect the competition, it is what we are in for, to win this game. It does not help to think more than this one game.
“If I am aware of bringing silverware, of course. I am here to win games, push the team and to ride the momentum that the players are, we are competing as a team and if we can win consecutive games, this is my job.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel. (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images). (Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
“You are never totally safe as a coach, this is a given, I won silverware in France and it came to an end so I can’t lose my head about this.”
The Blues will head into this evening’s contest without four, key first-team players, including Mason Mount.
The attacking-midfielder picked up his third yellow card of the Champions League campaign against Atletico in the first-leg and must serve a one-match ban. The same, too, can be said for Jorginho, as he will also miss out through suspension.
However, centre-back Thiago Silva and striker Tammy Abraham, who have been forced to spend time on the sidelines in recent weeks, remain out through injury problems.
Issuing updates on the pair, Tuchel said: “They are not quite right yet but with an international break now coming, I dont think there is too much risk in me saying that we expect them to join us again after the international break.”
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Elsewhere, Mateo Kovacic is poised to return in Jorginho’s absence and Hakim Ziyech could start in a central role in place of Mount.
Meanwhile, the likes of Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner will be pushing for recalls.
Full Chelsea squad available to face Atletico Madrid:
Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy,Kepa Arrizabalaga & Willy Caballero
Defenders: Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Ben Chilwell, Marcos Alonso & Emerson Palmieri
Midfielders: Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Billy Gilmour, Kai Havertz & Faustino Anjorin
Strikers: Timo Werner & Olivier Giroud

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