Chelsea would take a big step towards reaching the Champions League knockout rounds by simply avoiding defeat away to Roma on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
The Blues top Group C with seven points from two wins and a draw, with Roma a couple of points back in second and Atletico Madrid struggling on just two points in third. Their impressive victory away at Atletico on the second matchday has them in a strong position.
The mathematics of the situation is relatively simple. A draw on Tuesday followed by victory away to Qarabag, whom they thrashed 6-0 at Stamford Bridge, on the following matchday would be sufficient to see Chelsea through to the last 16. A win in Rome would seal their place there and then. Defeat would make things a little more awkward.
So while things are looking pretty good for Chelsea, there are still reasons for coach Antonio Conte to be wary. Especially given what happened when the two sides met in London a couple of weeks back. Chelsea raced into a two-goal lead only for Roma to strike back strongly to overturn that deficit and eventually go ahead, with former Manchester City striker Eden Dzeko scoring twice. Eden Hazard equalised to retrieve a point.
It was not the first time this year that the solid defensive structure on which last season’s title-winning campaign was based has looked vulnerable. Chelsea are conceding more shots and allowing opponents into dangerous areas more often this time around. Combine that with an attack that is struggling to create high-quality shooting opportunities and you have some explanation for what has been a relatively slow start to the season.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]So while things are looking pretty good for Chelsea, there are still reasons for coach Antonio Conte to be wary[/quote]
Conte’s side were, however, able to eek out a 1-0 win away to Bournemouth on Saturday to retain fourth place in the Premier League and they still have time to improve. Summer additions bulked out the squad to help them deal with the extra matches provided by European competition and it is perhaps normal that it will take some time for the new players to bed in and familiarise themselves with Conte’s approach.
Qualifying for the Champions League knockout rounds would provide a welcome confidence boost.
When the draw was made, Roma wouldn’t have expected to be so solidly placed by the time the group reached its midpoint. Chelsea and Atletico represented tough opposition and after a summer of widespread change, it seemed doubtful everything would click into place soon enough to allow them to compete seriously for a spot in the last 16.
There were changes at all levels. Former Sevilla sporting director Ramon Monchi came in to oversee operations and Eusebio di Francesco left Sassuolo to take over as head coach in place of Luciano Spalletti. There was also plenty of movement in the transfer market, with 12 new players coming in and Antonio Rudiger (now at Chelsea), Leandro Paredes and Mohamed Salah all leaving for fees greater than €20 million.
It is therefore to their credit that a record of eight wins and two defeats currently sees them among the chasing pack in Serie A, while draws away to both Atletico and Chelsea have given them a decent chance of progressing to the Champions League knockout rounds.
Di Francesco’s side recorded their third consecutive 1-0 victory at home to Bologna on Saturday. At Sassuolo, he was cast as a bold, attacking coach but in league play his Roma side have so far only conceded five goals, 0.5 per match, whilst scoring 17. The underlying statistics suggest their defence isn’t quite that airtight, but he nevertheless seems to have found a solid balance during the early months of his reign.
In an ideal world, Di Francesco and Roma would love to come away with all three points from Tuesday’s match, and there are certainly arguments in their favour. However, Chelsea have already produced one strong away display to take victory at Atletico and are capable of setting themselves up to gain the point that would take them to the verge of qualification.
Our Preview’s Roma vs. Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
Given the comments and analysis in the preview above, these are our recommended betting tips:
- Back the draw @ current best odds of 13/5 with BetVictor.
- Back Edin Dzeko to score at anytime @ best odds of 13/8 with Unibet.
Roma vs. Chelsea Odds Comparison
Take a look at the match betting odds from the best of the UK online sports betting sites: