Olivier Giroud

Talk about a perfect start. 

Thomas Tuchel has won Chelsea’s biggest game of the season. He was brought in after Frank Lampard’s sacking with the Champions League Round of 16 firmly at the back of their minds.

Chelsea defeated Atlético Madrid who have dominated La Liga this season 1-0 ‘away’ in Bucharest. Diego Simeone’s men had only won once in their last four games, and Tuchel’s men found the small margins needed to beat the Spanish table-toppers through Olivier Giroud’s acrobatic overhead kick. 

It was a mature performance full of the intensity and attention to detail required to topple The Rojiblancos.

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Tuchel was full of praise for his team’s control of possession and concentration which denied Atlético counter-attacking opportunities. Their tactical awareness meant Chelsea were patient and confident of getting their chances amidst Atleti’s deep defensive block which at times involved eight players in the box.

With an accuracy of passing which reads 86%, the Blues kept a lid on Luis Suárez throughout as Atlético didn’t manage a shot on target and Chelsea put themselves in pole position to reach a first quarter-finals since 2014.

Oli’s moment of ingenuity 

Olivier Giroud won the battle of the 34-year-old strikers, however, as his superb overhead kick winner sealed the crucial advantage. The goal makes it 15 in 16 starts for Chelsea in Europe as he added another to his glittering collection of spectacular strikes.

“If you see him on a daily basis you cannot be surprised,” Tuchel said of his marksman.

“He is totally fit, his body is in shape, his physicality is on a top level and mentally I have the feeling he enjoys every day. This is the level he needs to be.

“He trains like a 20-year-old, he is a guy who is serious and a mix of joy.”

Giroud, who now has six UCL goals this season, was pleased with the performance and reflected on the team’s match-winning efforts.

“We came here with strong intentions to win the game, play our game and we know how we could give them trouble offensively,” he told BT Sport. “We have been strong at the back in the defensive shape and very pleased with the win, it was a deserved win tonight.

“We know the importance of the away goal in European cups so that is why I was pleased to help the team win the game, we managed it well and we were confident but faced a great team and I think we were very committed and knew their main strengths. We dealt with it but we have to stay focused and complete the job.

The Frenchman added on his goal and the game’s decisive VAR decision which lasted three minutes;

“Not overconfident, we were confident in our qualities in the game. I did not know what to think about the goal, I just focused on hitting the overhead kick and was pleased to see it go in the back of the net, I had no clue about being offside, Mason Mount said he did not touch the ball. Good for the team, good for me.”

Key contributions and squad depth

The academy youngsters were also key on the night as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount continued to show their fruitful partnership. Chelsea’s squad was much better on the night and they managed the game well, with the substitutes each playing an important role in a deserved win.


Tuchel’s use of the squad at his disposal would be crucial in the coming weeks and they have put themselves in good spirits with a first away knockout win since 2012. Chelsea have an important run of fixtures domestically, starting with Man United on Sunday and the confidence to secure a top-four place would be higher amongst the players. 

Pertinently, this was the sort of game the Blues would have lost in Lampard’s tenure due to a lapse in concentration or lack of organization. 

A dominant win over one of the best-organized teams in Europe is the belief this very talented squad needs going forward.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


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