Our Champions League semi-final remains finely poised ahead of next week’s second leg after the Blues and Atletico Madrid played out a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in the Spanish capital.
Both sides will feel confident of progressing to the final going into the game at Stamford Bridge, but Jose Mourinho will be shorn of the services of both Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi, who will miss the game through suspension after picking up second-half bookings.
There was further bad news with both Petr Cech and John Terry forced out of the game with injuries. Cech was replaced by Mark Schwarzer early on while Terry limped off later after appearing to land awkwardly.
On a more positive note, the Blues were strong defensively, nullifying the threat of an Atletico side that went into the game top of La Liga and as the only side yet to lose a game in this season’s Champions League.
Schwarzer wasn’t seriously tested over the course of the 90 minutes, but the substitute goalkeeper looked confident and assured when called upon. At the other end, we rarely looked like scoring what could have been a potentially crucial away goal, although David Luiz fired a late free-kick just over the bar.
Overall, Mourinho was pleased with the performance of his side, but the Portuguese provided some bad news on the injured duo.
‘Petr Cech’s season is over,’ he said. ‘Don’t ask me to explain it technically, but it’s over. With John, we’ll have to play in the final for him to play with us again.’
On the balance of the tie
‘This result leaves everything even more related to small details for the second leg. We had problems before the game, during the game and lost four players, two with injuries and two with yellow cards, but we will fight.
‘Ivanovic is back, Schwarzer showed we can trust him. People that aren’t playing a lot, like Ashley Cole, gave an amazing performance. If we have to play the kids we will. Before, Atletico spoke about the game of their lives, now the game of their lives is at Stamford Bridge.
‘Nobody starts a game thinking of a 0-0 but the game goes in a certain direction where you feel you have to be safe and not concede, try to score in one of the chances you create. We had three or four corners and two free-kicks in dangerous positions. If we scored one of them the result would have been very good. We didn’t, and we go with a result where everything will be decided at Stamford Bridge.’
The Blues triumphed in Munich in 2012 with many players missing
‘I think many years ago Chelsea started building a team with great characters and personalities. In football you can use the word ‘heritage’ and the people who arrive, and young people, see examples and smell the heritage, and it goes on and on.’
On the character of his side
‘Everybody did a great job. A tired David Luiz, after playing in midfield, stepped back and played in central defence for the last 20-25 minutes, which wasn’t easy. For Ashley to play this type of game after so many games not playing, was amazing. Mikel, Lampard and Torres were immense. Every player gave everything and I’m obviously very pleased.’
Mourinho also spoke about Atletico’s qualities
‘For the first time they played a match here where they were trying to win because against Milan they won the first game at the San Siro, and against Barcelona they got a 1-1 draw away. This was the first time they played the first leg at home. They are a very difficult, very physical team and fantastic at set-plays. For us to stop them the way we did, without Schwarzer being man of the match, because he wasn’t, was really good and the team defended very well.’
Mourinho will have big decisions to make regarding team selection for Sunday’s game at Liverpool.
‘I can’t decide by myself, that’s a decision where I have to listen to the club. I’m just a piece, the manager and no more than that. The fact the match is on Sunday puts the problem not in my hands, but the hands of the people who decide the game should be played on Sunday, not Saturday or Friday. We represent English football, we are the only English team in Europe. Spain has four teams and gives them all the conditions to have success.’
Mourinho’s counterpart, Diego Simeone, praised our defensive display…
‘Our intention was to try to break their defence but it was impossible,’ he said. ‘They did very well, we’ll have to see at Stamford Bridge whether the 0-0 was a good result for them or us.’