Atlético Madrid vs. Chelsea, 2014 UEFA Champions League semifinals: To Courtois or not to Courtois?

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

If the rumours are to be believed, this is the draw that Atlético Madrid were dreading.

There's no doubt about which story will dominate the headlines in the lead-up to Atlético Madrid's Champions League semifinals against Chelsea. Atléti's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is one of his side's key players, and is perhaps the best young goalkeeper around at the moment. The small problem? He's owned by Chelsea.

If the rumours are to be believed, a loan clause means that Atléti may have to pay Chelsea several million euros if Courtois was to play against his parent club in the semifinals. UEFA have made it clear that such a rule would be unenforcable, so whether Atléti stick to the agreement -- or play Courtois at all -- remains to be seen.

Regardless of whether the Belgian eventually plays, Chelsea will still be very happy to have drawn Atléti in the semifinals. That's not to downplay the strength of their opponents, but they're not likely to prove as stern a test as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich would've been.

Of course, Atléti too should be happy to have dodged the two giants, though if their swagger against Barcelona in the quarterfinals is anything to go by, they're a pretty fearless bunch. Diego Simeone's side have developed a brutal counterattacking style capable of beating anyone on their day. Especially when Courtois is in goal.

Key players

Atlético Madrid: Koke - One of the key cogs in Atléti's counterattacks is tricky winger Koke, whose outstanding form has attracted the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs. Regularly found drifting centrally from the flanks to play cutting passes for teammates, he's a nightmare to mark. Let's see if Chelsea fare any better at doing so than Barcelona did in the quarterfinals.

Chelsea: Eden Hazard - The Belgian attacker is capable of single-handedly changing a game with a moment of brilliance. Usually found cutting in from the left, Atléti will have to ensure they're compact and deny him any space in which to sprinkle some magic. That's assuming he plays at all, as he picked up an injury in the second leg of the quarterfinal win over Paris Saint-Germain, and is an early doubt.

Key matchup

Eden Hazard vs. Eden Hazard's calf - Hazard's recovery could be the decisive factor in which of these sides progress. Let's hope he bounces back from his calf problem quickly, as this tie would be a little less special without him in it.

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