There are few teams in Europe harder to beat than Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
El Cholo’s Spanish giants are the kings of defending and this season have been better than ever at keeping the ball out of their net.
Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Gimenez and Felipe have each been in fine form in Atleti’s three-man defence, leaking just 16 goals in 23 La Liga outings this term.
And even when you break past their near-impenetrable defence, you are met with world-class shot-stopped Jan Oblak to defy you.
Chelsea, meanwhile, struggled on Saturday to break down Southampton, drawing 1-1 in a game where Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side picked up their first Premier League point since January 4.
But the blueprint for beating Simeone’s side has already been laid out heading into the weekend thanks to La Liga minnows Levante.
The Valencia-based club stunned the league leaders on Saturday, beating them 2-0 in their own back yard.
The hosts put through their own net early on before Atleti were punished in stoppage time, with Oblak up for a corner, as young Jorge de Frutos broke away with the ball and scored from the half-way line.
Levante found success against Simeone’s side by sitting deep, getting bodies behind the ball and counter-attacking their opponents.
And the biggest lesson Chelsea can learn, boosted by the pace of Timo Werner, is how often Levante were allowed to break.
Paco Lopez’s side missed a number of golden chances across the afternoon, including a guilt-edged opportunity early on that Jose Luis Morales put wide.
But it was Morales’ strike that took a double deflection to hand his side the lead moments later – only pushing Levante even deeper towards their own goal in the hope of protecting their lead.
A disallowed goal, a strike of the woodwork and 28 shots later, 11 of which were on Dani Cardenas’ goal, Levante broke away to register their first shot on target of the afternoon to make it 2-0 from the halfway line.
Speaking after the game, Simeone said: “I’m not looking for excuses, coaches have to find solutions. In the second half we did it and we have to be the ones who help the players who are out there.
“Championships are always the same, everyone has moments of difficulties. Those who are strong in the bad moments are the one who achieves their goals.
“There are obstacles. It is logical to find obstacles and then when you achieve the goal you enjoy it much more.”
It remains unlikely that Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel will adopt such a defensive approach in Tuesday night’s encounter with the German expected back his side to beat Atletico with the ball, not without it – but Levante’s lesson has shown how best to beat the La Liga leaders.