Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3: Five things we learnt, including bring in Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa

Lessons learned from the Champions League semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge

1. A badly defended bouncing ball can undo the best plans

Even for a team as well organised defensively as Chelsea had been for the first 135 minutes, there can be a problem of over-investment. They were looking comfortable at 1-0 up before the error that cost them the crucial away goal, more than an equaliser, which destroyed their balance.

Adrian’s goal just before half-time was a hammer blow, undoing two and a quarter hours – and far, far more on the training pitch – of rigorous hard work and organisation, and throwing the tie in Atletico’s favour. Chelsea had started this game as well set-up as they were in the first leg but when Juanfran darted down to the by-line, took down Tiago’s cross and played it back across the box, they could not cut it out. In the time it took the ball to fly past Ashley Cole, John Terry and Gary Cahill, and fall to the lurking Adrian Lopez, who put it in the net. Of course, had Chelsea played another way, who knows what would have happened, and Mourinho’s defensive football has achieved unprecedentedly successful results. But this was a  reminder that a bouncing ball can destroy the best-laid plans.  

2. Simeone is a match for Mourinho as a motivator

When Atletico Madrid knocked out Barcelona in the quarter-finals, Diego Simeone said that “sometimes the best team does not win, it is the one who is most convinced”. Atletico are team full of very good players, of course, but they are more than a sum of those, playing with a shared fervour and commitment that is instilled by their manager. In terms of personality-strength he is the equal of Mourinho, and the Atletico fans have a banner sang that he is not the ‘Special One’ but the ‘Sime One’. He was as ferocious in and outside his technical area as his players last night, charging up and down the touchline in his black boots, suit, skinny tie and coat, a picture of convinced charisma throughout. 

3. Courtois' defiant display will cheer Chelsea

If Chelsea are looking for positives from this evening the best one might be the performance of Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper. Despite the emphatic final score, for the first hour this tie was very much in the balance and Atletico needed Thibaut Courtois, on loan to them from Chelsea, to keep them in it. At 1-1, Courtois made a brilliant reaction save down low from a John Terry header from a Willian free-kick. Even at 1-2, when Chelsea still had time to win the game, Courtois turned over a David Luiz header that came flying at him from the inside of the post. Beyond that, his command of the box under aerial pressure was immaculate. Whenever the Chelsea goalkeeping handover happens, and it could be this summer, the future is in safe hands.

Read more: Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3 match report
Hazard admits Chelsea 'aren't set-up to play football'
Mourinho pays for lack of adventure in Madrid

4. Atletico are ruthless when they sniff opponents' flaws

 What Chelsea need more than anything else is a player like Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero up front. Those two are probably unattainable so Diego Costa might be the next best thing. He is not quite in their technical class but he showed a strength of character and appetite for mischief here that must appeal to Jose Mourinho, who bemoaned his lack of “real strikers” after Chelsea’s quarter-final first leg defeat in Paris. The only time Costa stopped moving was when he went down with a muscle injury in the second half. Before then he was relentless, showing for the ball, winning it in the air and running in behind. Ashely Cole and Gary Cahill needed desperate blocks to stop him before he eventually scored, taking as much time as he wanted over his penalty – a sign of mental fortitude – before placing it perfectly in the top corner. Mourinho can only have been impressed. 

5. Costa could be the man Chelsea need

The European Cup final, when Madrid goes to Lisbon, will be furiously contested. Real Madrid were obviously always going to miss Xabi Alonso, their organiser and leader, but that must be even more true against Atletico Madrid than it would have been against Chelsea. The lesson of this second half, when Atletico tore into Chelsea, is that they are like sharks sniffing blood as soon as they sense weakness. They saw vulnerability in Chelsea and went for the throat. Diego Costa was endlessly troublesome, while Koke and Arda Turan, puckish and mischievous on either wing, broke into the box repeatedly. With Adrian Lopez darting around between them they were a swarm of menace. Xabi Alonso, of course, is football’s finest fireman, a specialist at both prevention and cure. Without him, and with Sami Khedira struggling for fitness, there is a weakness in the heart of that Madrid team too. If Atletico sense it, they will be ruthless.

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker