Diego Simeone's enviable record against English opposition and other Atletico Madrid talking points ahead of Chelsea clash

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Chelsea play Atletico Madrid in Champions League Group C on Wednesday night.

Here Press Association Sport looks at the Spanish side in focus.

DIEGOS

Striker Diego Costa finally has been granted his wish to return to Atletico after three years and two Premier League titles with Chelsea. The Brazil-born Spain striker will be reunited with Diego Simeone, the much admired Atletico boss best remembered by English audiences for being the recipient of David Beckham’s petulant kick in England’s second-round loss to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

Simeone has never lost to English opposition as a coach, winning three of the five contests.

Costa will hope Simeone can help him extract revenge on Chelsea.

Costa will hope Simeone can help him extract revenge on Chelsea.

CHELSEA CONNECTION

As well as Costa, who will be able to play for Atletico again once their transfer embargo is lifted in January, there are other familiar faces in opposition. Filipe Luis and Fernando Torres, plus Tiago, who is now an assistant coach, all had spells at Stamford Bridge.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico from Chelsea, winning La Liga in 2013-14. Radamel Falcao, now at Monaco, had a successful spell at Atletico and an underwhelming one at Chelsea.

Torres is one of several players who have a connection with both Chelsea and Atletico.

Torres is one of several players who have a connection with both Chelsea and Atletico.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Chelsea have one win in five European games against Atletico – the first meeting in October 2009. The sides most recently met in the 2013-14 semi-finals.

Courtois was permitted to play under UEFA rules. Goalless after the first leg, Atletico won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to advance to a Madrid derby in the Lisbon final.

Real Madrid won La Decima (their 10th European Cup), after more than a decade of trying. But Atletico had won the league title for the first time in 18 years, breaking the Real-Barcelona hegemony.

Atletico knocked Chelsea out at the semi-final stage in 2014.

Atletico knocked Chelsea out at the semi-final stage in 2014.

FORM

Atletico are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions, including the final four matches of last season. They opened their Champions League campaign with a goalless draw at Roma.

Atletico have conceded one goal in their last five games following last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sevilla at the Metropolitano.

Atletico warmed up for their Champions League clash with a 2-0 win over Sevilla.

Atletico warmed up for their Champions League clash with a 2-0 win over Sevilla.

METROPOLITANO

Chelsea may be envious of Atletico’s modern new home. Los Rojiblancos moved from the fabulous but crumbling Vincente Calderon Stadium this season, playing their first home match at their new ground on September 16 – a 1-0 win over Malaga.

Chelsea are considering a rebuild of Stamford Bridge and would likely welcome the influx of foreign investment which has seen Chinese conglomerate Wanda sponsor the Metropolitano.

Atletico's players and fans have instantly settled in at their new stadium.

Atletico’s players and fans have instantly settled in at their new stadium.

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Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri uncertain whether Gonzalo Higuain will play against Olympiakos in Champions League

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Will the Argentine feature?

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insists he has “no problem” with Gonzalo Higuain despite uncertainty over whether the Argentina striker will play in Wednesday’s Champions League match against Greek side Olympiakos.

Higuain was dropped for Juventus’s 4-0 Serie A win over Torino last weekend after scoring just twice in the first five games of the season.

But Allegri said that if the 29-year-old does not play, it is not because he is dissatisfied with the forward’s performances.

“I will decide after training on Wednesday whether or not to play Gonzalo, it is not a problem if he doesn’t play, it would be a problem if he didn’t play for Juventus,” Allegri told a news conference.

“I have not decided yet who will be the four strikers, but I repeat that Higuain is not a problem.

“It happens that one of Higuain, (Paulo) Dybala or (Mario) Mandzukic could be out for a game or two. Fortunately we’re playing every three days, which means we’re in the Champions League, the league and the Coppa Italia, but I certainly don’t see a problem with Higuain.

“Gonzalo is calm. I talked to him. He needs to remain serene and think of being himself, nothing more and nothing less.”

Juventus lost their opener 3-0 to Barcelona, while the Greek outfit lost at home to Sporting Lisbon, and are playing with a new coach.

But Allegri warned: “We cannot possibly underestimate this match, as it’s the Champions League and every opponent is tough.

“Olympiakos are a fast-paced side that can hurt us with their forwards and we have only one result at our disposal. If we don’t win, then our qualification becomes complicated.”

Allegri confirmed that midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi would start, with Claudio Marchisio and Sami Khedira not yet fit.

A late decision will be made on whether defender Andrea Barzagli will play alongside Giorgio Chiellini in the centre or on the right.

Barzagli, 36, joked he did not mind where he played, even up front, as Juventus look to learn from their mistakes this season.

“We know how much we care about this tournament, the Champions League is the ultimate for any footballer,” he said.

“Clearly we’ve realised over the past few years how you need to play in the Champions League. We’ve learnt from our mistakes – losing two finals is tough, but we’ve learned from them.

“The Champions League is made of periods, of fortune, of how you are in the knockout rounds.

“It’s complicated to win it and you have to be strong, but then you need a lot of things to come together too.”

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Gareth Bale answers his critics - Analysis of Real Madrid winger's performance in 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund

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Bale scored a superb volley.

It hasn’t been a happy couple of months for Gareth Bale.

The Welshman has had to deal with transfer speculation, slipping down the Real Madrid pecking order and being jeered and whistled by his home fans during a few ineffectual displays.

Yet he’s actually quietly putting together a solid season, having scored twice and assisted three times heading into Tuesday’s crunch Champions League away tie against Borussia Dortmund.

He added to both counts on the night, scoring a wonderful volley and teeing up Cristiano Ronaldo as Madrid won 3-1 win in Germany, meaning he’s now been directly involved in more goals this season than any other Madrid player. Not bad for someone who’s supposedly underperforming.

Here’s an in-depth look at Bale’s performance against Dortmund.

Basic stats

Goals – 1

Assists – 1

Shots – 2

Dribbles – 0

Passes – 28

Key Passes – 2

Pass Accuracy – 86%

Touches – 42

Bale had cause to celebrate after a stunning goal.

Bale had cause to celebrate after a stunning goal.

Effectiveness

Tuesday night’s performance was vintage Bale.

He popped up on either wing, making his trademark runs to beat Dortmund’s defenders with pure pace, and was smart with his distribution – including a perfectly-delivered cross for Ronaldo to run onto and finish. His defensive work rate was similarly excellent, and vital as the German side threatened Madrid’s rearguard quite often. And he was always available for the out ball for his defenders and midfielders.

Not to mention, he started it all with a wonderful volley to open the scoring.

Bale was one of Madrid's star performers on Tuesday.

Bale was one of Madrid’s star performers on Tuesday.

Key moments

18th min: Robin Van Persie made a habit of scoring goals like this. A clipped ball into the box, and the 28-year-old met it perfectly on the volley, timing it sweetly to almost caress the ball into the back of the net. It’s a goal that requires perfect technique and yet Bale’s finish was almost nonchalant.

49th min: Gareth Bale at his best. A perfectly-timed run behind the defence allowed him to run onto a through ball on the left wing, and then all he had to do was look up and find Ronaldo. Bale’s cross was placed at just the right place for Ronaldo to convert.

78th min: It was nearly a Bale special. Madrid counter-attacked at pace and a long ball allowed the former Tottenham ace to run at goal from the right. He was staring down Dortmund keeper Roman Burki, with a vintage goal almost guaranteed, but it took a well-timed sliding tackle from a recovering defender to snuff out the opportunity.

Ronaldo knew who to thank for his first goal on the night.

Ronaldo knew who to thank for his first goal on the night.

Our verdict: 8/10

Zinedine Zidane will be asking for more of the same from his Welsh winger. A goal and an assist is always a good performance, and Bale wasn’t far away from adding to the tally on either count.

The Real Madrid boo-boys have been out in full force to hound Bale back at home, but this was a magnificent display that hit back at the critics.

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