Every word Cesar Azpilicueta said on how Chelsea stop Luis Suarez and Champions League heartache
The Blues skipper was speaking to the press ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League Round of 16 clash with Atletico Madrid
There has been an improvement in results under Thomas Tuchel, what is that down to?
“What was important was that from the first day, he made it very clear what he wanted from us. We have tried to replicate that in every training session and every game. Also, we had a couple of positive results and that gives you more confidence.
“We were very disappointed last Saturday to drop two points when we could have got three. Now we have a new challenge, the Champions League and we know how it is to play these kinds of games.”
What challenge do you expect Atletico Madrid to pose?
“Atletico are a very solid team. They are top of the league in Spain, and that is well deserved. They have got great results, although last weekend they lost at home.
“But we know we are facing a very strong team with experience in the competition. They have been working together for a few years and we have to try to play our game.
“We are playing away from home, but it is very important we try to play our game, to control the game to create chances, and to be clinical in front.”
What advice would you give to Callum Hudson-Odoi after he was brought off against Southampton having only been brought on a half time?
“It is not nice to come on and be substituted off after 30 minutes. That is very obvious and the manager made it clear [after the game].
“What was important was to see Callum’s reaction afterwards., it was a positive reaction.
“I am sure he will get better, he will get stronger. He is a young lad. When you face these kinds of situations, the most important thing is the reaction and straight away, the next day in training, the manager said the incident was over, he talked through it and that was it.
“Now we have another challenge. Callum is a strong boy. I am sure he will get better.
“He is a very important player for us, as we’ve seen in the recent games, he has played every game under the new manager.”
Are Atletico under more pressure than Chelsea?
“When the Round of 16 starts, I don’t think that’s such an important factor. Both teams failed to win their last game, but we know Atletico Madrid have great experience in the competition, they have some great players, they are very solid, they really haven’t conceded many goals this season.
“So we are taking it very seriously, we know it’s going to be very tough and we will give everything we have to try to get a good result.
As a defender, what do you do to stop Luis Suarez when he’s running at you?
“The best way to defend him is to keep him as far away as possible from the goal and that is a collective job. As a defender, personally, I faced him when he was in Liverpool and in Barcelona in the Champions League.
“He is a great striker and we know his numbers, wherever he has played he has scored a lot of goals. We will try and defend him as a collective, trying to control the game and try to get the attacking players as far as possible from our goal.”
Are Atletico favourites for this game in your opinion?
“I think the talk of favourites is more of a press thing. We are purely focused on winning. I think when there are bad results you might think one team is less of a favourite but I think that both teams are in different situations than when the draw was made but both will do everything to win.
Chelsea have dominated possession under Thomas Tuchel, do you think that will lead to more goals?
“Well, when we play with possession, it is not just to have the ball for the sake of it. We want to have it to create chances and spaces.
“Yes, we are missing that final thing to have possession and create more chances but we are working on that. We will try to improve on that. That’s the next step because we are solid defensively and we want to get more opportunities to get better results.”
Atletico Madrid have to play their ‘home’ game in Bucharest, is that an advantage for Chelsea?
“It would have been nice to play in Madrid with the fans but I am afraid that’s the situation we have to deal with; it has been nearly a year of playing without fans.
“That’s the situation so we just have to adapt really. I don’t really know whether it is better or worse but that’s the situation and you have to adapt.”
You joined after Chelsea won the Champions League but you haven’t won it since? Is it the disappointment of your career?
“When I joined Chelsea in 2012 after they had won the Champions League, of course, my aim was to repeat that. It is something that sticks inside and every year when the chance comes, I want to go further.
“It is the biggest competition in Europe. We know it is very tough but you have to be ready for that challenge.
“Personally, it is something that is in me and hopefully we can start from tomorrow, have a good game, get a great result and see how far we can go.
Do you feel Suarez and Jan Oblak are the Atleti stars?
“Well, I think both are very important and they play at different ends of the pitch. Suarez played at Liverpool so he is better known here in England but they are both very important players.
“We know we are up against a good team and we will try and do the best performance we can to get a good result.”
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