After 15 years at the very top of the game Cesc Fabregas knows a good manager when he sees one. So it was no surprise when he was asked prior to Wednesday’s Champions League meeting between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea what he made of the two opposing foes.
“They have their own football philosophy and want players who are with them to the end,” he sagely remarked. “Both have achieved that. Everything [Conte] tells us is working out, and that strengthens his position with the group.”
Two champion players. Two champion managers. Two natural born winners.
Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea player ratings
An even cursory look at the way Diego Simeone explodes in and out of his technical area shows why so many Chelsea fans have welcomed talk of the fiery Argentine one day swapping the Spanish capital for the English equivalent. ‘El Cholo’s’ aggression, enthusiasm and verve for the game would appear to be a perfect fit for the cut, thrust and blood and guts of the Premier League.
And what better place than Chelsea, where a passionate, larger than life character already prowls the touchline, he too both in and outside where he is supposed to be. They even look the same, both dressed to the nines, one complete with a white shirt, one black.
Sartorial similarities aside these are two of the premier football minds in the game today and, as such, were always likely to produce a tactical masterclass and so it proved, an 11 on 11 game of chess, with each man’s move and counter move always under the watchful eye of the other.
It was something of a surprise then, given their collective nous, that Chelsea dominated from the get go with Antonio Conte’s shift from his usual midfield two to more of a three stifling Atleti’s own pair in the middle of the park. Victor Moses was running uninhibited down the right flank with Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco seemingly far keener to exploit the space left behind by the Nigerian than assist the…