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Atlético Madrid’s defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League leaves LaLiga looking bad


I expected something else from Atlético Madrid in London in their Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea. I thought they’d get through, or, in the worse case scenario they’d give their all trying. But no. They played poorly, with no flair and no spirit. The fearsome side who we thought would take LaLiga at a canter thanks to their advantage over Real Madrid and Barcelona have lost their shine. A string of poor results all too quickly turned into a crisis of confidence, which naturally led to a crisis in their style of play. And right in the middle of it came this tie, in which they were second best to Chelsea in both Budapest and in London. Last night they went out to turn things around and didn’t even create a decent chance.

Atlético Madrid going through a very lean spell

A lean spell, that’s how the old-school commentators in Spain used to call that part of the season where a team inexplicably starts to play badly. That’s exactly what Atlético Madrid are going through. Yesterday they never found their rhythm and racked up passing errors. Faced with that, a Chelsea side who were fundamentally solid went through the game with no more cause for concern than a few isolated shots from João Félix, of which only one in time added on at the end of the game had any real danger about it. Based around Kante’s play - constant and measured, a perfect example of what the Italians refer to as a metronome - Chelsea comfortably played out the 90 minutes towards victory.

Only Real Madrid left in the Champions League

This tie between the leaders of LaLiga and the team lying fourth in the Premier League has provided strong arguments for those who reckon our championship is in decline. More than the other ties, because an atomic bomb named Haaland landed on Sevilla and Barcelona, thrashed in the first leg, at least showed what they could do in the return, something which Atlético failed to do on Wednesday night. At the end of the day, we’re left with just Real Madrid, who go into Friday’s draw with three English sides: Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea; two German teams: Bayern and Borussia Dortmund; one Portuguese outfit: Porto; and a French club: PSG. At least Spanish football can still seek some consolation in the Europa League.