UWCL: Chelsea look to capitalise on advantage over Atletico Madrid

Sam Kerr and Bethany England

Chelsea are set to travel to Brianteo, Monza to play Atlético Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 this afternoon. The Blues hold the advantage with a 2-0 aggregate lead and are hoping to put in another good performance against a vengeful Atlético. However, Las Colchoneras will not make it easy for the Women’s Super League champions.

Loss of injured team captain Magdalena Erikson and the suspension of Sophie Ingle will undoubtedly play into Madrid’s hands. Both teams come into this match with recent victories and a spate of strong performances for Chelsea.

Atlético comfortably defeated Real Betis with a staggering 4-0 in their last fixture. Two of the four decisive goals came from midfielder Amanda Sampedro. They sit fourth in the Primera Iberdrola table, four points behind the Champions League qualifying position.

Chelsea’s latest display saw Bethany England and Sam Kerr link up to provide and score for the team in a 2-0 win over West Ham.

The reigning champions currently sit at the top of the table, but Manchester City’s recent wins threaten their two-point lead.

The Blues will look to make up for their 2018/19 UWCL campaign, which saw them reach the semi-finals, only to lose to eventual winners Olympique Lyonnais 3-2 over two legs.

Magda Eriksson, Guro Reiten and Sophie Ingle

Chelsea failed to qualify for last season's Champions League after finishing third in the WSL. They have been knocked out at the semi-final stage of the European competition on two occasions. In 2019, they were beaten by winners Lyon and also lost to Wolfsburg at the same stage in 2018.

On the other hand, Atlético Madrid won the Supercopa Final against Levante in January and knocked out Manchester City in the last 16 of the 2019/20 Champions League and the season prior. However, the Spanish club has struggled in the league this season and currently lags 13 points behind Spanish giants and leaders Barcelona.

The first leg was adjudicated by the inexperienced referee Tess Olofsson. The game was full of controversial decisions that massively impacted the game. The second leg will be overseen by French referee Stephanie Frappart who has appeared in top flight games and was the first female to referee a men's Champions League match. This game is paramount for both clubs, therefore consistent and accurate decision-making is essential from the referee.

Chelsea’s controversial penalty was the talking point of the match. Commenting on the intense moments leading up to the penalty and the outbreak of emotion from the players, Jess Carter told GiveMeSport Women: “A lot of people didn’t really keep their cool. There was a lot of shouting and anger, you have to learn that you can’t control a refs decision. As frustrating as it is, you giving a bad reaction doesn’t help anyone and the team if we switch off.

“The moment you react badly, they are through on goal. You can’t afford to let your emotions get the better of you. This starts in training – sometimes the coach purposely calls a wrong decision to see the reaction. [We have to] focus on what’s next, not what’s just happened.”

The big performance from Chelsea made it easy to forget that they were only playing with ten for the majority of the match.

When asked about the team’s mindset and the Chelsea manager’s impact, Carter stated: “Emma [Hayes] always encourages character – that’s what wins you games and our character and mindset is what got us to win games.

“We have to move on and dig deep and push hard. That’s what we have got this year that we maybe haven’t had in the previous two years – turning that into positive results. So it’s definitely to do with the coaching and the [people] around you.”

It is set to be an exciting encounter between the two teams. Chelsea will be pushing to capitalise on their lead whilst Atlético will vie to rise to the occasion and overcome their two-goal deficit.

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