The Champions League semi-final clash between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea promises to be an intriguing encounter between two masterful tacticians.
Jose Mourinho has proven his managerial credentials over the years as arguably the finest tactician and self-motivator in the game, winning trophies galore in numerous competitions including the Champions League on two occasions.
Diego Simeone, on the other hand, has arguably been the finest coach over the last three years and it is hard to believe any other man could have transformed Atletico from huge underachievers to the brink of making history in just three years. He even defeated Mourinho's Madrid in last season's Copa del Rey final.
Despite Atletico Madrid’s unbelievable achievement of knocking out Barcelona in the quarter-finals, club representatives have reiterated that the Rojiblancos are the tournament's underdogs and Chelsea will enter the clash as favourites.
“Chelsea are the favourites. We have been given a very tough rival who are used to reaching finals and winning titles, not to mention their coach who is also used to it all.” Midfielder Tiago, formerly of Chelsea, told Spanish newspaper AS.
“We didn’t have any preferences, it will be difficult as they are a great team but we have the illusion of reaching the final.”
“It’s a very even tie. Chelsea are a great team.”
“We must compete, fight for everything and be even more competitive. We will do all we can to reach the final.”
Not all sectors of Madrid, however, feel that the Stamford Bridge outfit are favourites to reach the final. Spanish journalist Alfredo Relaño believes Atletico Madrid’s motivation will see them overcome Chelsea and reach the final in Lisbon.
“Atletico Madrid are the rock that stands in Chelsea’s way of reaching the final in Lisbon. They are two very similar teams in strength and faith, but Atletico will win with motivation.”