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Know Thine Enemy: Q&A with We Ain’t Got No History

We talked to Dávid Pásztor from SB Nation’s Chelsea site about Wednesday’s match, Álvaro Morata, and — of course — Diego Costa.

Chelsea Training And Press Conference Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Into the Calderón: Let’s just rip off the bandaid, so to speak: are you happy/relieved/saddened by Diego Costa’s departure? Would you rather have seen him go somewhere other than Atlético Madrid?

Dávid Pásztor: As much as we might miss Costa's goals, fighting spirit, and dressing room presence, we're unlikely to miss the constant controversies (real or manufactured) both on and off the pitch. There's never a boring day at Chelsea as it is; adding Costa's volatility into that mix (under both Mourinho and Conte) was at times a bit overwhelming.

That said, he was a fan favorite and I'm a bit saddened it ended as it did given all his goals and trophies at Chelsea, though what was quickly forgotten in Costa's PR campaign against text-happy Conte is that Costa had been agitating for a return to Atletico for about two seasons now, including last summer when he introduced himself to Conte by way of asking for a transfer. That Chelsea were able to still get good money for him makes this resolution pretty okay in my book.

ItC: I take it you are enjoying life with Álvaro Morata?

DP: Morata's start to life at Chelsea has been almost as good as Costa's was back in 2014, the crucial difference being that we're talking about how he can get even better as he becomes familiar with the team and the league rather than talking about how he's getting an unfair shake in the media and is being targeted by referees (not that Costa was entirely blameless with his constant agent provocateur act).

ItC: Things seem to have settled down at Chelsea after a tempestuous start. Has Antonio Conte pulled any new tricks so far this season?

DP: A new trick in Conte's playbook, at least as far as his tenure at Chelsea's concerned, is the 3-5-2 (a couple different flavors of the 3-5-2, in fact), with an extra midfielder (usually Fabregas) deployed instead of a third forward. This was used as a late-game formation last season to help Chelsea see out games, but we've seen it deployed as plan A a couple times this season already and it would not be surprising to see it again on Wednesday.

ItC: At ItC, we have some pretty fond memories of the last time the Atleti played Chelsea in the Champions League. Is there any part of the 2014 semifinal you’d care to relive?

DP: No. That was a bad time, in both legs.

ItC: I suppose that’s fair. Do you feel Atlético-Chelsea this time around will decide Group C?

DP: If Chelsea get a positive result, then yes. If we lose, the group becomes wide open.

ItC: Simeone vs. Conte. Make the case for why Conte will win this battle of wits.

DP: As much as Conte is supposed to be a great tactical mind, Chelsea don't switch up strategies too often if things are working, which they appear to be at the moment. We're far more likely to concentrate on precise and committed execution rather tactical surprises. We'll make it a battle of wills rather than a battle of wits.

ItC: If there’s one player who will make a surprise impact against Atlético, who would it be?

DP: This could the game Tiemoué Bakayoko truly announces his arrival as a midfield powerhouse at Chelsea.

ItC: Scoreline prediction, please.

DP: Happy with a draw, but I have a sinking feeling we'll lose a close one. 2-1 to the home team.

Ready for the game? Give us your predictions in the comments!