Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea | Tuesday 23rd February 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arguably the most intriguing tie of the round of 16 comes on Tuesday night as Chelsea face off with 2014 finalists Atletico Madrid in Romania of all places.
Some are saying the Spanish club are going through a blip but I think that’s a touch harsh. They’ve only lost 4 of their 31 games in all competitions this season and continue to top the La Liga table. They did slip up at the weekend against Levante, but those who had followed the goings on at the club recently will note that their eyes were firmly on their next run of fixtures.
Both Saul Niguez and Stefan Savic picked up tactical yellow cards last week in order to pick up bans to therefore miss the game at the weekend. They’ll both return fresh for this one and they’re two of the most important cogs in the Atleti machine.
The bookies can hardly split these two in the match markets and it looks like qualification will likely be from the finest of margins. Atletico Madrid have been one of the serious forces in knockout competitions under Diego Simeone given their usually stringent defence keeping them in games.
That renowned solidarity has been called into question of late though and it’s the first time Los Colchoneros have gone seven games without a clean sheet under the long reign of ‘El Cholo’.
I do think they have it in them to keep this very tight as they’ve managed to do so over the years. Chelsea haven’t really hammered anyone under Thomas Tuchel and given this is a first leg there might not be much in it.
Technically this counts as the Spanish sides’ home leg despite them playing 2000 miles away in Bucharest due to COVID protocols, Chelsea will still probably be happy with a draw going into their home leg at Stamford Bridge. I’d just about edge towards Atleti here and considering we can get our money back if it ends all square it makes sense to take them with a +0 start on the asian handicap at 10/11 with Bet365.
I’m also going to stick in the asian handicap market but look at a card-based approach. You can get 9/10 or 1.900 on Atleti with a 0.0 start on the asian card handicap which did surprise me as I expected a half ball game here. Atleti have had more cards or equal cards than their opponents in 15/23 league games this season and only Getafe and Celta Vigo have collected more bookings than them.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have picked up just 35 cards in 25 league games this season. Backing this selection we would need Atletico to have more cards than Chelsea for a win but if the two sides are level on cards we will get our stake back.