Chelsea to play Atletico to win - their own way
Ahead of return leg at home to Spaniards, Andre Schurrle responds to team's critics by saying the right tactics are those that work
Chelsea are ready to shrug off their critics and put in another exhibition of ultra-disciplined counter-punching against Atletico Madrid when the teams reconvene for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The Blues' strategy at Anfield on Sunday led to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers moaning that coach Jose Mourinho had "parked two buses".
But Chelsea, boosted on Tuesday by the return of John Terry, Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o to training after injury lay-offs, could - if Mourinho pleases, offer up more of the same against Atletico, according to Andre Schurrle, who said the team's critics were "jealous".
Chelsea took a similarly defensive approach to the first leg of the semi-final in Madrid last week, which ended goalless.
"Winning is what matters," said 23-year-old German Schurrle. "You can play perfect football, lots of one-touch stuff, and lose. There's no point in playing well and losing. If people say 'Chelsea can't play', even when we win, it's because they're jealous."
Chelsea's form has oscillated of late, with performances such as the win at Liverpool, a 6-0 demolition of Arsenal and the 2-0 defeat of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-final second leg interspersed with losses to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland.
The availability of Terry will be particularly heartening to Mourinho, who is without Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi due to suspension. After the Chelsea captain suffered an ankle injury in the first leg, it was feared he would not return for a few weeks.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, who was also injured last week, also trained on Tuesday but it is understood he will not feature.
While Chelsea's title destiny is not in their hands - they need both Liverpool and Manchester City to drop points - full-back Cesar Azpilicueta believes the win at Anfield was ideal preparation for Wednesday's assignment.
"We had a lot of difficulties [before playing Liverpool]," said the Spaniard. "We had players missing [but] played well and showed how strong our squad is. We have two games in the league against Norwich and Cardiff, but all our attention is on [Atletico]."
Mourinho stands on the brink of history in Europe. Success in the May 24 final in Lisbon would make the Portuguese the first manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs.
Atletico are unbeaten in this season's competition, however, and, as they carry a four-point lead in La Liga, they truly have a double in their sights.
"The league has nothing to do with the Champions League," said manager Diego Simeone, who would lead Atletico to their first European Cup final since 1974. "We know we are facing a very strong team."
Agence France-Presse, Reuters