The teams had played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw in Madrid, but the return at Stamford Bridge was a much more lively affair. There were four goals, the woodwork was struck on two occasions and both goalkeepers made good saves.
The first half was relatively even, but Atletico were by some distance the better side after the break. They pushed forward, scored twice and thereafter controlled the pace of the match to secure victory.
It was a confident and highly impressive display from Diego Simeone’s men against a Chelsea side who offered little attacking threat and were undone by simple defensive errors.
Here we study the film to see where it went right for Atletico and wrong for Chelsea.
Atletico Hold Their Shape
Atletico boasted the best defensive record in La Liga and had conceded just five goals in their previous 11 Champions League matches, as per Soccerway, coming into Wednesday’s second leg.
They control space better than any other side in Europe, with two narrow and compact bands of four leaving little space between the lines for opponents to build through the centre of the pitch.
That shape, combined with the discipline and work rate to maintain it, makes them incredibly hard to break down. On the few occasions Chelsea did threaten to do so, cover was quick to arrive.
The Blues created very few chances in open play, with two of three best efforts after their goal coming from set-piece situations. They lacked the necessary imagination and/or power to pierce such a well-organised and hard-working unit.
Hazard Twice Neglects His Defensive Duties
Eden Hazard has enjoyed an excellent season for Chelsea. He leads the club in both goals (14) and assists (seven) in the league, as per Soccerway, and he was recently voted the PFA Young Player of the Year, as per BBC Sport.
Jose Mourinho has spent a lot of time working on the defensive side of Hazard’s game, as per the Daily Express, but his attacking midfielder let him down in this regard on Wednesday, twice allowing Juanfran to run in behind him to provide crosses that led to Atletico’s first and third goals.
For the first, with Ashley Cole dragged under the ball, Hazard was caught ball watching as Juanfran ghosted in behind him onto Tiago Mendes’ lofted pass to cross for Adrian Lopez to finish.
For the third goal, Juanfran again escaped Hazard’s attentions to meet another Tiago pass and cross for Turan, who tapped in after his initial header had come back to him off the crossbar.
Atletico Push Forward After The Break
The teams came out for the second half with Atletico knowing that a simple preservation of the half-time score of 1-1 would be sufficient to see them progress to the final on away goals.
They did not, however, play like a team who needed to maintain the scoreline as it was. With Koke moved infield to facilitate greater control of the centre of the pitch, they began the half on the front foot, forcing a couple of early corners.
Simeone could be seen on the touchline willing his team forward, sensing blood. They continued to attack and eventually got a reward for their efforts when Diego Costa was upended by a clumsy challenge from Samuel Eto’o and dusted himself off to convert the resulting penalty.
As well as their second-half goals, the second of which was scored by Turan, as previously detailed, Atletico took four of their five shots on target during the second half of the match.
Atletico established complete control. “They were very solid, very mature, a real team,” Mourinho admitted in his post-match press conference, as per the Guardian. “I knew that before, and I congratulate them now.”
Simeone went a bit further:
Simeone on his team: “I want to thank their mothers for giving birth to players with balls this big [gestures to show substantial size]”— AS English (@English_AS) April 30, 2014
Real Madrid now stand between Atletico and a first-ever Champions League triumph.
“This will be a new experience for us because it’s been so many years since our club was last in a final like this,” Simeone explained in the post-match press conference, as per the Guardian. “This is a very special moment for us.”
If Atletico play with the same conviction they displayed on Wednesday night, they will have every chance of winning the trophy in Lisbon later this month.