Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed he is such a fan of Luis Suarez that he tried to sign the Uruguayan for Paris Saint-Germain before he made the move from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid in September.
And Atletico coach Diego Simeone admitted on Monday that Suarez could be key to his side’s hopes of beating Chelsea in the Champions League last 16.
Seven games into his reign as Chelsea manager, Tuchel remains unbeaten, with the Londoners fifth in the Premier League and into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
However, the German is aware he faces his biggest challenge yet against an Atletico side with bags of experience in knockout Champions League ties under Simeone.
“This is for sure a big test — sporting, mentally and physically,” Tuchel said on Monday. “This is a very experienced club at this level, a very experienced and tough coach to play against.
“It’s clear when you play against Atletico what you get. You get hard fighting and there are many teams who have experienced this.”
Atletico’s style has evolved this season, though, to accommodate a range of attacking options including Suarez, Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente.