Chelsea v Roma Preview

by - October 17, 2017

Wednesday evening sees Chelsea return to Champions League action with their home group match with Italian giants Roma. And after back to back league defeats it might be a welcome return for The Blues who’s last CL match was that stunning victory away in Atlético’s new stadium.

Whilst Victor Moses was added to Chelsea’s hamstring injury list during Saturday’s defeat, there is much belief that Alvaro Morata will return to action after being fully involved in training with the squad since Sunday’s extra sessions. His appearance, whether from the start or as a substitute during the match could be significant as they come up against another of Europe’s best defensive units.

Having got the better of Diego Simeone’s defensively miserly side, Chelsea will find Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma to be another tough nut to crack, especially away from their home. They have a strong, hard working midfield who protect their back line very effectively and, although they lost Antonio Rudiger to The Blues over the summer, their defence has been very well marshalled by Kostas Manolas so far this season.

The former Sassuolo manager has many similarities to Antonio Conte. Eusebio was a versatile midfielder who played with high energy levels, making late forward runs into the opponent’s area or tirelessly working up and down the wing when playing wide. And like Conte his management style ensures his team play with similar work ethics. He spent 5 years managing tiny Sassuolo, who’s population is only forty thousand, promoting them to Serie A in his first season and then managed to keep them in Italy’s top flight since, including a season where he was sacked but then reinstated 2 months later and still managed to avoid relegation.

On paper, Roma appear to have started their league campaign this season very well, winning all but 2 matches so far. Yes their 2 defeats so far have been at the hands of the top two sides, Napoli and Inter, but 4 of their 5 victories have come against some of the weakest sides in their division.

Their most significant victory was a 2-0 triumph away to Milan. It was a great team performance in which ex Arsenal striker Edin Džeko terrorised the Rossoneri defence. However, big spending Milan have stuttered a great deal this season which has now seen their manager receive the dreaded “vote of confidence”.

We can expect a tightly fought, no quarter given match. Chelsea will need to be wary of not getting over powered in central midfield and be able to make the most out of any opportunity they get. If Christensen and Rudiger do return in defence, they will need to keep a close eye on the resurgent Džeko. The battle between the giant Bakayoko and the gritty Nainggolan will be intriguing and maybe explosive. If Alonso and Zappacosta can regularly progress up their wings and Hazard get back to his impervious best, the scene should be set for a successful return of Morata especially if Manolas is missing due to injury.

A victory for the home side will see them almost guaranteed to qualify from the group stage and give them a welcome return to winning ways. A very welcome return.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow me on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

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