Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid: 5 Things We Learned

Dan LeveneFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid: 5 Things We Learned

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League after a 1-3 semi-final defeat at Stamford Bridge.

    An opening goal by Fernando Torres was cancelled out by strikes from Adrian Lopez, Diego Costa (penalty) and Arda Turan. This result has set up the first ever Champions League final between two sides from the same city.

    Chelsea will not be Lisbon-bound on May 24. What did we learn from Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid?

The Transition Still Has a Long Way to Go

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Just under two years ago, Atletico Madrid humbled Chelsea 4-1 in a totally one-sided UEFA Super Cup in Monaco.

    The personnel on both teams is different. Radamel Falcao has moved on, while Diego Costa has become king. Chelsea have moved out Juan Mata, with Samuel Eto'o being their main attacking threat.

    The Blues have also changed manager twice since the debacle.

    Still, as Stamford Bridge so clearly saw on Wednesday night, this is a side in transition.

    Chelsea were not flayed alive, as in Monaco. Rather they were the authors of their own undoing due to lapses in defensive concentration and an impotent front line.

    Next season, they will be able to call on Nemanja Matic in this competition—he was vital in the second half of the Premier League season. There will be summer signings too.

    Only 13 months until the 2015 Champions League final in Berlin...

Fernando Torres Knows What Side His Bread Is Buttered on

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Atletico Madrid may have been the boyhood club of Fernando Torres, but it's been nearly seven years since he left those shores.

    Seven years during which he has become both the most sought-after talent and most expensive flop in English football.

    Scoring a goal in a Champions League semi-final for Chelsea two years back sent both him and the away end in the Camp Nou wild.

    Only the crowd celebrated his goal on Wednesday.

    Seven years to get over those loyalties would usually be adequate, you might think, unless he knows he might be treading old ground soon.

    What price now a move back to the Vicente Calderon for Torres, with the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton reporting that Chelsea is the front-runner to land Diego Costa's services?

Thibaut Courtois Could Well Be the Best Goalkeeper in the World

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Not called into action enough by Chelsea over 180 minutes of football, on-loan keeper Thibaut Courtois still had plenty of opportunity to show his class.

    Leaping low to make a reaction save from Gary Cahill, he displayed exactly the sort of agility the Blues need between the posts.

    Like Fernando Torres, he also knows where his future lies.

    At full-time, he went around the entire Chelsea team, beaten and dejected as they were, and gave each of them a sympathetic hug.

    Even club doctor Eva Carneiro got a peck on the cheek from the giant Belgian before he applauded the crowd and headed down the tunnel.

    Who knows whether he will be back at Stamford Bridge next season? If he is, he could yet be carrying a 2014 Champions League winners medal.

Diego Costa Blew His Showreel

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Despite his team advancing through, the goal machine everyone had been talking about never really turned up in this tie.

    Diego Costa looked absent for most of the two games, with his only real impact felt on the penalty he won and converted.

    If this was an audition for Roman Abramovich's affections, it wasn't especially impressive.

    But, of course, it wasn't.

    The smart money is that Chelsea will go ahead and buy the Atletico man anyway.

    However, more memorable performances will be needed if he is to set the Premier League alight with his unquestioned talents.

Though It May Feel Like It, This Has Not Been a Season of Failure

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Chelsea went into this season with a newalbeit familiarmanager and a heavily imbalanced squad.

    Years of chopping and changing, scattergun buys, and changes in tactical direction take their toll.

    Though some of the narrative is different at Manchester United, one look at their plight this season reveals how it could have been at Chelsea.

    Instead, this Chelsea side have been in contention until the very end: Champions League semi-finalists with a theoreticalalthough highly unlikelychance of still taking the Premier League.

    Many will have seen the club gain momentum and, as that has been sapped, point to failings.

    In truth, Chelsea have overachieved in 2013-14, though the expectations will be much higher next season.