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
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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.

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn