Three things from Chelsea-Atleti, Bayern-Lazio

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Nicholas Mendola
·4 min read
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Chelsea and Bayern Munich completed the field for Friday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draw with relatively tame second-leg wins on Wednesday.

Thomas Tuchel’s Blues controlled a substandard Atletico Madrid, shutting La Liga’s leaders out over 180 minutes to win 3-0 on aggregate after Hakim Ziyech scored at Stamford Bridge. USMNT star Christian Pulisic came on for the final 15 minutes of the win and set up Emerson Palmieri’s stoppage-time insurance goal.

[ MORE: JPW speaks with Sergino Dest ]

Bayern’s win is 6-2 on aggregate and the second leg felt more like that score line than the 2-1 that went on the board when Lazio scored late at the Allianz Arena.

Here are the three things we learned from the two matches.

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1. Chelsea oozes class but finds finish fleeting: For those Stamford Bridge acolytes still holding firm to the ideas that Frank Lampard was hard done by and that Thomas Tuchel is too defensive to succeed the German dared them to complain with a phased attack that flourished on the counterattack to open the scoring but then just flat out ran roughshod through Atletico Madrid.

The thing could’ve been 3-0 (4-0 on aggregate) by halftime, but stood 1-0 (2-0) thanks to fine margins from Chelsea’s shooters. Ziyech and Werner showed a keen connection, and the Dutch playmaker was fantastic running the right side. Add Kai Havertz into the “front three” and there was a better showing of what Tuchel expects from his attackers.

Havertz was active and played a terrific ball to Werner to cue up Ziyech’s lone goal. All three players posted two or more key passes as there was no single focal point of the attack. It might’ve not been the best day for Christian Pulisic, but maybe the American picked up more cues on what Tuchel wants in this system.

Atleti took possession more over the final half-hour, but the damage felt done. Chelsea was not going to be broken down, let alone twice, in London on Wednesday, as Eduoard Mendy had the answers on the rare occasions that Atleti asked questions.

Chelsea - Atletico Madrid
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 17: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea battles for possession with Mario Hermoso of Atletico Madrid (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

2. Open Atleti is not Simeone’s Atleti: Pursuing an away goal and knowing two would be huge, Atletico Madrid had to abandon the defense-first, -second, and -third game plan that Diego Simeone’s men have implemented to perfection so many times including last season’s Round of 16 defeat of Liverpool.

That meant that Chelsea’s 3-4-3 (3-4-2-1) of sorts was ready to pounce on mistakes and Atleti was very much lost in the woods when Timo Werner sprung an attack down the left side and flashed a big cross to Hakim Ziyech to make 2-0 on aggregate in the 34th minute.

Atleti having Joao Felix, Saul Niguez, and Renan Lodi amongst others meant that Chelsea wasn’t home free, as the La Liga powers can attack when needed and do in fact lead Spain’s top flight.

They also lost their nerve, Stefan Savic sent off for an elbow to the chest of Antonio Rudiger. La Liga is the only silverware left for Simeone’s men, and now Barcelona are focusing on that race as well.

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3. Cruise control Bayern is still pretty good: Bringing four away goals and a three-goal advantage back home to the Allianz Arena meant Hansi Flick’s quest to win a second-straight Champions League had all the meaningful intensity of a league battle with Mainz.

Still, Flick played a strong 4-2-3-1 in front of Alexander Nubel and there was rarely any worry as Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich did battle with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the heart of the pitch.

Bayern had most of the ball, 75 percent of the shots, and the only goals as Robert Lewandowski — who else? — added to his Champions League haul and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored off a David Alaba feed late before Lazio’s Marco Parolo scored off an assist from Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira to make it 6-1 over two legs.

By the point, the champs were just uttering, “Bring on the quarterfinals.”

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Three things from Chelsea-Atleti, Bayern-Lazio originally appeared on NBCSports.com