After the success of our interviews in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with experts of each of the 8 teams, we have decided to speak to more experts of the remaining four competing teams, to get a better understanding of how they see the ties, and what we can expect. You can read our previous interviews here.
The expert for this interview is David Cartlidge. David is a writer for Spanish news site, Sport, Mirror Football and WhoScored. You can follow David on twitter @davidjaca
Winning the Champions League would be the ultimate prize for Atletico Madrid, but given their hold of the La Liga, could their European adventure have a detrimental effect on the domestic front?
I think if it was to have an effect on them, it would’ve happened already. Several players have played a rather absurd amount of minutes, but the preparation and execution of fitness training at Atleti is first class. I think everything has properly been calculated for. Just look at how few injuries Atleti have encountered this season in contrast to their rivals.
Atletico Madrid have shown they know how to keep attack-minded sides quiet and use it to their advantage, part of their success this season. But Mourinho’s side thrive on their defensive solidity. What do Atletico need to do to get past Chelsea?
I think the vital facet will be Atleti keeping focus on their own style and approach. If they become too obsessed with how Chelsea might play it will be their downfall. Atleti must stick to the style that has got them this far. Above absolutely everything else. Focus and unity.
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How much of an advantage will it be that Atletico Madrid played on a Friday and thus had an extended rest period?
Extremely, as previously mentioned several Atleti players bodies will be suffering right now, so any rest is good rest. The fact it is a prolonged spell is highly important. The game on Friday against Elche was a tough one, in which Atleti were made to work for a win. They did it eventually of course.
What is the general feeling among Spanish football followers about Atletico Madrid and their success this season? Are they the neutrals new favourite team?
For the most part, yes. Mainly this is due to the fact they are breaking up this Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly. People who are perhaps sick of those two also now have another Spanish representative in the elite competition. There is great respect for Simeone’s style too. I believe he is the dream coach for fans of every team, given the dedication and level of performance he extracts from his players. The only resentment that exists, and I feel it’s only a small proportion here, is with Atleti’s financial history. Their high tax bill and so on still infuriates many for example.
It has been said that both managers’ styles are very similar with the Simeone even learning from Mourinho when the Portuguese man was at Inter. Could Jose have the advantage, tactically, in this one?
I think he will, certainly. His record speaks for itself and there are few in the game with such an ability for winning the game from the touchline. His presence is one thing, but tactically Mourinho is also highly intelligent and observant. He will have a system ready for Atleti. He’s the greatest factor in this tie for Chelsea, more than any individual player. Hazard. Willian. Terry, whoever it may be it doesn’t matter, Mourinho is the most important. A lot was made of individuals at PSG in the previous round, but Mourinho trumped them all.