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It is hard to know if Roman Abramovich truly believed the Champions League was a realistic target when charging Thomas Tuchel with the responsibility of saving Chelsea’s season.

But victory against Atletico tonight and few could question their credentials as genuine contenders.

Defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg of this round-of-16 tie, Chelsea are 90 minutes away from a quarter-final draw that will not feature Barcelona or Juventus. If successful in eliminating Diego Simeone’s La Liga leaders, Chelsea will establish themselves as ‘one to avoid’ for the other seven in the pot.

Whether Tuchel would appreciate the comparison is not clear, but his team may already be developing a reputation as the new Atletico.

He walked into Stamford Bridge and declared an intention to make Chelsea a team no one wants to face. That has been Simeone’s modus operandi as Atletico have revelled in upsetting the odds, particularly in Europe, with Liverpool seeing their reign as Champions League holders ended by the Spanish side last year.

Simeone is hoping to pull off another memorable win against English opposition tonight, but in being forced to chase a 1-0 deficit, the dynamic of the game is already working against him. Continue reading

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