Chelsea should head into their Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid full of optimism – despite Diego Simeone’s side being “the one they probably didn’t want”.
That’s the view of former Blues midfielder Glenn Hoddle, who has backed Frank Lampard’s side to come through a tough test against the La Liga outfit.
Chelsea topped Group E with four wins and two draws from their six games, but were rewarded with arguably the toughest draw they could.
With Barcelona stumbling both domestically and in Europe, Atletico were arguably seen as the toughest of the second-placed sides due to the defensive and combative style Simeone has imprinted in his players over the last nine years as manager.
“It is a tough one,” Hoddle told BT Sport. “It’s the one they probably didn’t want.
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“I don’t think Barcelona are scary at the moment, they wouldn’t fear them, but Atletico are stubborn, they’re such a stubborn team.
“They’re very difficult to play against. As I say, they’ve got a balance to their team when their manager allows them to play, they can play good expansive football at times – and they need to if they’re chasing a game.
“I think Chelsea have certainly got the firepower up front to open up Atletico, but it depends also as you’re going into these big games I always feel if you’re hitting confidence, momentum and results – but we won’t know that – if you’re hitting them when playing well, winning back-to-back games in the league.
“We’ve got to hope all three English clubs are in that mode when they go into these games, particularly Chelsea against Atletico.”
Atletico, Champions League runners-up in 2014 and 2016, missed the chance to go top of La Liga over the weekend as they suffered their first defeat in the…