Chelsea’s Champions League campaign came to an end last night as Atletico Madrid eliminated the Blues from the competition with a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
After a tight first-half, Jose Mourinho’s removal of bespoke winger Cesar Azpilicueta to accommodate the introduction of Diego Costa left the hosts short in midfield – with the visitors exposing them cruelly.
A neat and tidy footballing side, Atletico kept the ball and were not put under the necessary pressure for the reminder of the game in the boiler room – with a key figure’s absence being sorely missed.
Nemanja Matic has taken no prisoners in the Premier League since resigning for the west London outfit in January, going toe-to-toe with the best midfielders in English football and invariably coming out on top.
His importance to Chelsea was highlighted as Ramires and David Luiz struggled to get to grips with their skilful and fleet-footed opposite numbers. Had Matic been in front of the Blues’ back four the visiting midfield surely would not have had such dominance in the last 30 minutes.
With another assault on European football next season, Matic will be a key man in Chelsea’s hopes of repeating their 2012 Champions League winning showing.