Just as when heading into the first meeting a fortnight ago, Chelsea’s and Roma’s fortunes more or less mirror each other, though Chelsea have improved to 4th in the league while Roma remain 5th in a suddenly competitive Serie A.
Since that 3-3 at Stamford Bridge, both teams have won three in a row, with Roma notching identical 1-0 wins over Torino, Crotone, and Bologna and Chelsea serving up a bit more drama in wins over Watford (4-2), Everton (2-1), and AFC Bournemouth (1-0). Unsurprisingly, Roma remain the Serie A’s meanest defence with just 5 goals conceded in 10 games. In fact, the three goals that Chelsea managed to score account for over 40 per cent of all goals the Giallorossi have conceded in all competitions thus far.
While another draw, score or scoreless, would do just fine for the Blues, a win for Conte’s men would guarantee a spot in the knockout round and make the last two games of the group stage (Qarabag away and Atlético at the Bridge) more or less a formality.
That sounds pretty good.
Date / Time: Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 19:45 GMT; 3:45pm EDT; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Referee: Jonas Eriksson — This will be the sixth Chelsea match for the 2016 Europa League final referee, with Chelsea yet to lose — though we did eventually lose the shootout at the end of the 2013 Super Cup against Bayern Munich. Eriksson’s last Chelsea match was three years ago, with the Blues running riot in Schalke to the tune of 5-0.
Forecast: Partly sunny and fairly warm day turning into a clear, pleasant All Hallows’ Eve
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); Fox Sports 2 (USA); Sony SIX (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); Fox Soccer Match Pass (USA); Sony LIV (India)
AS Roma team news: Roma’s injury crisis continues apace, with key defender Kostas Manolas, who’s missed the last four games starting with the Chelsea game at the Bridge, back in training but possibly not quite ready to play, while Roma’s starting right back Bruno Peres is now also a doubt after picking up a hamstring injury of his own.
As two weeks ago, Roma’s back line may be breachable, but their forward options of Dzeko, Perotti, and El Shaarawy are dangerous as ever and their midfield could easily outmaneuver and outmuscle Chelsea’s once again. It would also be helpful if Aleksandar Kolarov returned to the aging and waning defender we all had written him off to be.
Last time Chelsea came to the Olimpico, a Marko Vučinić-inspired Yellow-And-Reds spanked the uninspired Big Phil Blues 3-1. That was so long ago that not even Francesco Totti or John Terry remain (at least not in a playing capacity). Daniele De Rossi is the only active holdover, while two of Chelsea’s unused substitutes that day, Paulo Ferreira and Carlo Cudicini have since joined the Chelsea coaching staff.
View from the enemy: Chiesa di Totti
Chelsea team news: Apparently it’s up to N’Golo Kanté to decide whether he starts or not, but we can probably safely assume that he will be available in some capacity for the first time all month, and with just hours to spare before November begins! In fact, unlike last time, Conte should have everyone other than Victor Moses available — though that alone won’t guarantee victory.
Our group is a tough group with Atletico Madrid and Roma, two really group teams. To stay at the top of this group is really important.
“We are trying to face all competitions this season. We went through to the next round of the Carabao Cup, we won the last two games in the Premier League.
“Roma are in a good moment of form. It’s important for us to overcome this difficult period. We are recovering important players. You know how important it is for me to have all the players available.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea lead Group C with seven points but Roma are just two points behind. Three points for either team would be monumental.
Previously: Chelsea tried a 3-5-2 and took the lead, but were never really in control and had to eventually fight back from 3-2 for a share of the spoils.