Atletico to make Mourinho blue
Ian Ogg previews Tuesday night's Champions League semi-final first leg and expects Atletico Madrid to record a comfortable win.
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Jose Mourinho's 'little horse' continues to outrun its odds and the influence of the 'Special One' cannot be underestimated with his tactical nous, confidence and aura seemingly affecting his team, opponents and media alike.
The French press certainly credited him with PSG's meek display in the second leg of the quarter-final as he won the tactical 'battle' with Laurent Blanc and the layers appear to be expecting more of the same with Atletico Madrid available at a general even money.
Sergio Aguero was leading the Atletico attack the last time that these two sides met in the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea 'winning' their two games by an aggregate of 6-2 with a 4-0 win at the Bridge but the make-up of the sides could hardly be more different at present.
Atletico are sitting high at the top of La Liga while Chelsea come into the game on the back of a home defeat to bottom placed Sunderland, the first time that Mourinho had lost a league game at Stamford Bridge.
Gus Poyet's side showed no fear of the Blues and fellow South American Diego Simeone is the last man that you would expect to be cowed by the myth that surrounds Mourinho.
Simeone has overseen a remarkable transformation at the Vicente Calderon which has seen his team go a long way to breaking the stranglehold that Real Madrid and Barcelona have held on the Spanish game.
There's no doubt that they have the appetite for the big game nor about their ability to be focused on the task in hand. They scored the first goal in every game against Barca (other than the two goalless draws naturally) this season and were one up after just five minutes in the second leg of their quarter-final tie.
In Diego Costa, they have a world class striker who has netted 27 League goals as well as scoring seven in six Champions League games and Chelsea's strikers come up short in comparison.
The likes of Turan and Garcia have chipped in from the middle of the park while Thibaut Courtois - who is on loan from Chelsea, of course - has excelled in goal and has seen his reputation soar.
Chelsea are by no means a bad side and do possess match winners with players like Hazard and Oscar in their ranks while David Luiz, often maligned, was magnificent in the defeat of PSG.
They will have to surpass themselves, however, if they are to see off Los Colchoneros who have few obvious areas of weakness.
Their defence is tight - they have conceded just nine league goals at home and only 13 away - and they have the players up front that are capable of breaching any defence.
I wouldn't put anyone off looking for a bigger price by backing them to win to nil or having an interest in the Diego Costa scorecast but the even money appeals as a price that is too good to be missed.
I will, though, also be having an interest in the 2-0 scoreline at around 8/1. Mourinho's typical modus operandi away from home in this competition is to adopt a cautious approach.
The former Real Madrid manager nearly came unstuck in Paris with that late goal in the first leg which granted the hosts a 3-1 advantage and it wouldn't be a surprise if a similar scenario unfolded.