Chelsea Tap into the Atletico Madrid Spirit in Leicester City Win

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2014

STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON — Thibaut Courtois saves, Diego Costa scores.

Not so long ago, a match report carrying that narrative would have seen Atletico Madrid the subject and beneficiaries. Not anymore.

As Chelsea huffed and puffed before blowing Leicester City's house down at Stamford Bridge, they showed the spirit of the reigning La Liga champions. 

Last season, it was Courtois' clean sheets and Costa's goals that gave Atletico success, and manager Jose Mourinho is now replicating it in west London.

Nigel Pearson's side had caused the Blues plenty of problems before Costa put Chelsea ahead after the interval—the first half proving a frustrating one for Mourinho and his players.

It was a case of new Chelsea, same problems. Only now, they have Costa to get them out of jail, which he did.

"The way we were playing [in the first half] was not good enough to win the game, and we were in risk," Mourinho explained in the post-match press conference.

"It's impossible to play football if you do not win one single second ball. [It was] basic things, but important things."

As Miguel Delaney noted for ESPN FC, Costa's winner helped Chelsea avoid a repeating a troublesome trend that so hurt the previous campaign:

After being largely underwhelming in the first half, Jose Mourinho's side admirably picked up their game later to effectively overpower an impressively solid Leicester. Chelsea creditably ratcheted up the performance toward the end of the match when it was required, which was a quality often missing last season, especially at home against teams rather similar to Leicester. 

The most important, of course, being goals, and Costa is now up and running in a Chelsea shirt, scoring on Monday against Burnley before doubling his tally for the season against Leicester on his home debut.

Costa has impressed with the timing of his goals. They haven't been the last in a rout or at a time when Chelsea are cruising and not in need of inspiration.

He has made a massive impact. The Spaniard pulled Chelsea level against Burnley after going behind early on at Turf Moor before opening the scoring against a Foxes team that looked like good value for at least a point.

"I got the feeling in pre-season that his adaptation wouldn't be a big deal. [He's an] easy guy, a happy guy, not speaking English, but always communicating," Mourinho continued.

"He's had a big integration into the team. His style of play has also adapted to our needs, so I was getting the feeling his adaptation wouldn't be a problem."

Courtois' integration has been just as seamless.

Prior to Costa's opener, he was forced into making two saves from David Nugent—one routine, the other world class.

Nugent was through on goal, one-on-one with the Belgian, and it was going to be a game of courage—who would blink first?

It certainly wasn't Courtois, who did the simple thing every manager asks of his goalkeeper by not flinching and going to ground early.

Courtois kept his nerve to eventually tip Nugent's effort wide and keep the game goalless. Not long after, Chelsea were in the lead.

Such is the quality of goalkeepers Mourinho has at it his disposal; we're used to seeing Petr Cech doing the same.

In that regard, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary from a Chelsea keeper, but what Courtois has shown is that he doesn't look or feel out of place in this Chelsea team.

With Cech breathing down his neck, the pressure is on him to perform every week. And he is.

The signs are good for Chelsea. Last season, they drew or lost games of this nature against sides like Leicester. That the Blues won this time only bodes well for their prospects this season in the Premier League.

In the end, Chelsea were comfortable winners at Stamford Bridge, and it's the Atletico influence they have to thank for it. Last season, Costa and Courtois helped lead their side to glory in Spain. This term, Mourinho will be hoping for a repeat in England.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes


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