Thomas Tuchel admits Chelsea are facing one of the Champions League’s ‘toughest challenges’ ahead of the club’s last-16 meeting with Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea face Atletico in the first leg of their knockout stage tie this evening and face a difficult task against the Spanish league leaders in Bucharest, Diego Simeone’s side having enjoyed a superb start to the season to lead the La Liga title race by three points with a game in hand.
Atletico have never won the competition but have reached two finals in the past seven seasons and have often proven nightmare opposition on this stage, Simeone’s side famed for their defensive resilience and ability to grind out results.
Tuchel admits his side are expecting a ‘tough match’ against a strong Atletico team and believes the Spanish side represent one of the ‘toughest challenges’ possible in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
“We expect a tough match, because Diego Simeone – there are no words needed for the achievements of this man at this club, he transformed them into warriors,” he told Chelsea TV. “Every year they are so strong, so solid, so mentally strong.
”He transforms every player into a team player. You can see it is always the team first.
“They are hard to beat, they are the [league] leaders in Spain, and they have a strong connection with the coach who is the face of Atletico. They have strong individual quality, and combined with this mentality, and this is one of the toughest challenges you can have in the round of 16, but we are here for these challenges and will do everything to beat them and to enter the quarter finals.
“I have trust in my team and I the trust the power of this club, we will go to Bucharest looking for a good result and we will finish it at Stamford Bridge.”