Frank Lampard knows his Chelsea side will require elite levels of ‘concentration and focus’ as well as ‘talent’ if they’re to knock Atletico Madrid out of the Champions League and thinks the experience of Thiago Silva will be vital.
Lampard branded the Champions League last-16 draw against Diego Simeone’s side as the ‘toughest’ Chelsea could have possibly faced, having finished top of their group.
Atletico have twice been finalists during the past decade, while winning the Europa League three times in that period, so they’re experienced operators in knockout European football.
They beat Chelsea in the semi-finals of their run to the 2014 final but the Blues earned revenge in 2017 by finishing above them in the group stages, with Atletico dropping to the Europa League – which they eventually won.
Atletico, who are joint-top of La Liga, knocked Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Liverpool out of the Champions League at the same stage last season and Lampard knows just what a threat they will be.
And he thinks Silva’s influence will be vital at the back as he looks to inspire Chelsea maintaining high levels of concentration throughout what will be an intense game.
‘He’ll be very important and he’s not the only one,’ Lampard said ahead of a trip to Wolves on Tuesday.
‘Other players have got Champions League experience in what’s without a doubt the top club competition in world football.
‘It requires concentration and focus as well as talent levels because it is so intense.
‘Players that have been there and done it – Thiago was the captain in a final not long ago – will be able to pass on experience and be very aware of those levels over two legs against a team as experienced as Atletico.’
‘I like a team which is the image of their manager and I think he’s certainly proven that over the years he’s been there with the discipline of the team, how they are very strong with their game plan,’ he added.
‘When you watch them, you understand the way they play. You could watch them on TV, turn the colour off and you would still understand that Atletico Madrid are playing. They are very sure in the way that they play.
‘They have quality players around that as well and the manager has driven that club for a lot of years, so they are a very confident and experienced European outfit.’