Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says that Chelsea’s ability to win 2-0 at Liverpool with a rotated side shows the size of the challenge facing his team in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal second leg at Stamford Bridge.
• Worrall: Mourinho masterclass
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho claims he is prioritising the European competition at the moment, but a side featuring only three of his preferred XI nevertheless was still good enough to win at Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
With his team currently top of the Liga standings Simeone has done no such prioritising, and named his strongest available side for what turned out to be a gritty 1-0 win at Valencia on Sunday.
The Argentine coach told his postgame news conference at Mestalla that for him the two competitions did not impact on each other, but it was nonetheless impressive that Chelsea's squad was deep enough to get such a result at Anfield.
“La Liga has nothing to do with the Champions League,” Simeone said. “They are two different situations. There are four days between them so I do not believe one thing affects the other.
"What is clear is that Chelsea have a great team, because they were able to rotate so much as they did for this game, and still won 2-0. So we are taking on a really powerful team, as we already knew, and who can cause us a lot of problems on Wednesday.”
Sunday’s game at Mestalla was a tight affair, with Raul Garcia heading the only goal amid a mistake by Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, and Atletico holding on to take another step closer to the title in front of over 4,000 travelling Colchoneros fans who are growing increasingly excited at the possibility of a first La Liga title for their club since 1995-96.
The attacking midfielder told Canal Plus afterwards that he and his teammates would again be lifted by the Atletico supporters who will be with the side in London.
“Now the important thing is Wednesday,” Garcia said. “We must go out to win. In London we expect a very similar game. Chelsea are competing for the Premier League and will make things very difficult for us. The support of our fans will be very important. For this winning feels so good to us. For all of them.”