Chelsea will be hosted by AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico tonight, as both sides prepare to battle it out for the top spot in Group C of the UEFA Champions League.
As things stand in Group C, Chelsea are on first place with 7 points, with Roma in second with 5. Since playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge on the 18th of October, both AS Roma and Chelsea have played 3 matches and emerged victorious in all of them.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s men have played out three consecutive, narrow 1-0 victories in the Serie A. Their victims were FC Crotone, Bologna FC 1909 and Torino FC and they currently sit at 5th place in the Italian top flight, 6 points behind table toppers Napoli.
Chelsea beat Watford in 4-2 in the Premier League, but that match was far closer than the scoreline suggests. They then beat Everton 2-1 in the EFL Cup and then AFC Bournemouth 0-1 on Saturday. Antonio Conte’s men are now placed fourth in the League, 9 points from the top.
Eusebio di Francesco is expected to stick with the same starting XI that played out that 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge. Alisson in goal, with Aleksander Kolarov, Juan Jesus, Federico Fazio and Bruno Peres making up the back four.
Radja Nainggolan, Maxime Gonalons and Kevin Strootman will likely start in midfield, with Diego Perotti, Edin Dzeko and Gerson forming the attack. There are however, doubts surrounding the fitness of Peres, in the event that the Brazilian doesn’t start, Hector Moreno could start as a makeshift right back.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Bruno Peres, Federico Fazio, Juan Jesus, Aleksander Kolarov; Radja Nainggolan, Maxime Gonalons, Kevin Strootman; Gerson, Edin Dzeko, Diego Perotti
N’Golo Kante has returned to training with the squad, but Victor Moses remains injured. If Conte decides to start the Frenchman from the get-go tonight, it will likely cost Andreas Christensen or Davide Zappacosta (both of whom started in the 3-3 draw), a place in the starting XI.
Chelsea are expected to revert to their 3-5-2 for this match and a few changes are expected to the side that beat Bournemouth in midweek. Courtois will hold on to his place in goal, while Gary Cahill will come into the side and join Luiz and Azpilicueta in the back three.
Alonso and Zappacosta will likely hold on their place as wingbacks, while N’golo Kante is expected to slot right back into the starting XI in midfield. Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata should set up shop upfront as the two strikers. This may be the first time we see a full strength starting XI from Chelsea this season.
Davide Zappacosta started the last two games for Chelsea, so there is a chance he might not start tonight. Instead, Azpilicueta could move to the right and Andreas Christensen or Antonio Rudiger could come into right center-back.
If Kante isn’t deemed to be fit, then David Luiz could start in midfield again with Andreas Christensen taking up his place in the center of the back three.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill; Davide Zappacosta, N’golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Marcos Alonso; Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard
- Chelsea have scored 4 goals from out the box, more than any other team in the Champions League.
- Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in each of their last 3 Champions League matches.
- Edin Dzeko is 1 goal away for getting 60 for AS Roma across all competitions.
- AS Roma have 5 goals at home in a mere 7 games across all competitions this season.
- Chelsea have lost only 1 of their 6 away games across all competitions this season.
AS Roma 2-1 Chelsea
Both sides will be playing their fourth game in the space of 11 days, so it goes without saying that fatigue will play a key role here and the manager that has been able to rotate his team the best will have a the biggest advantage, in this case that would be Eusebio Di Francesco.
Both managers will be keen to shore up their defence for this game and look to try and prevent their side from conceding 3 goals. We predict a hard fought and narrow victory for the Serie A side given their home advantage and strength in depth over Chelsea.
The Blues will likely be the happier of the two sides to come away with a draw, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t try take the game to their hosts.