Champions League Picks & Tips for Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea

Steven Suarez

Monday, April 21, 2014 7:18 PM GMT

Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 7:18 PM GMT

The Blues have managed to grind out some impressive wins in their Champions League campaign so far, but it's only going to get tougher from here on out. Atletico has looked mighty strong, so where should we be looking with our soccer picks for the first leg in Madrid?

Odds Overview
The Mattress Makers are clear-cut favorites at -110 to -115 at a majority of the sportsbooks we've checked. Chelsea is a heavy underdog in the +350 to +400 range, with a draw listed at roughly +240 at the moment.

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Atletico Madrid
It's simply been business as usual for Atletico lately, as they've followed up their Champions League triumph over Barcelona by beating both Getafe (2-0) and Elche (2-0) in league play.

Diego Godin and Diego Costa scored the goals in the away win over Getafe, with Costa also getting on the score-sheet against Elche. Miranda was the other goalscorer in that victory.

Those wins have pushed Atletico ahead of the pack by four points atop La Liga. They're six ahead of Real Madrid, though Cristiano Ronaldo and company do have a match in hand at this point in the season.

Either way, as you can see it's been a splendid season for Diego Simeone's side. They control their own destiny in the league and have a very good chance of making the Champions League final. A good result in the first leg at home will go a long way.

Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, will be allowed to man the goal against his parent club, which is great news for Atletico and their fans alike. The Blues, however, are probably most worried about Costa, who's scored 35 goals in all competitions for Simeone this season. 

 

Chelsea
Not the best of weeks for Chelsea.

Spirits were high after that thrilling come-from-behind win over PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals. A 1-0 away win over Swansea City five days later helped the cause, keeping the Blues right in the thick of things atop the Premier League table.

It all went wrong this past weekend though, as Chelsea fell 2-1 at home to Sunderland, who currently occupy the last spot in the standings.

There was a nervous energy around Stamford Bridge and the team couldn't rise to the occasion. The Blues went ahead after only four minutes through Samuel Eto'o, but the Black Cats had a terrific response and controlled the tempo of the match for large portions. Jose Mourinho wasn't pleased with the refereeing, but few would argue that Chelsea was anywhere near their best.

It's going to be interesting to see how the Blues respond after this newest round of adversity. Mourinho has pulled off some amazing results away from home in the past – can he do so again against this in-form Atletico outfit? 

 

Champions League Pick
There are a few reasons we think the Mattress Makers are worthy of selecting with your soccer picks on Tuesday.

For one, they've been outstanding at home. They're undefeated (15 wins, three draws) in 18 league matches inside Vicente Calderon and their only loss there in any competition came against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

In addition, Atletico has the attacking quality that Chelsea's simply been lacking recently. Mourinho has been waiting for his strikers to start dominating, but it simply hasn't happened. The Mattress Makers have Costa, who's been a terror for opposing defenses, while David Villa (13 league goals) has also been influential.

Throw in the sheer intensity and determination shown by Atletico throughout this season and we find it hard to believe they won't win this first leg at home.

Soccer Pick: Atletico Madrid 2 Chelsea 0

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