Chelsea vs Roma preview, betting tips and predictions: Blues face tough Champions League test at bad time
Chelsea to win and BTTS @ 9/4 with Sky Bet
Score draw @ 7/2 with Sky Bet
1-1 draw with Edin Dzeko to score first @ 30/1 with Sky Bet
During the summer, Antonio Conte could scarcely hide his frustration at the state of his squad. Having just won the Premier League and reached an FA Cup final, there could be no doubting the quality, but Conte’s qualms were with the depth. It was always going to be interesting to see how his side coped with the added pressure of the Champions League, and three defeats in the opening eight Premier League games would suggest they need some time to adjust. All that said, they welcome Italian giants Roma to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and they could hardly be looking better in Europe.
An opening game 6-0 win over Qarabag was followed by arguably the best Champions League performance by an English side in years at Atletico Madrid where they won 2-1. Crucially, during the defeat to Manchester City that followed, top scorer and record signing Alvaro Morata suffered a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out for some time.
Despite Michy Batshuayi’s late winner in Madrid, Conte doesn’t quite trust him to start, so without Morata, Chelsea seem a different beast. They will look to put things right against Roma. The Giallorossi have not made the best of starts in Serie A, losing twice already, but they do have a lot of quality, particularly in attack with Radja Nainggolan supporting former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, scorer of 29 goals last season. Bruno Peres, Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov can provide width; not only will there be pressure on Eden Hazard, Conte’s preferred stand-in for Morata, but also Daniele Zappacosta with right wing-back Victor Moses picking up an injury in the shock defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Suddenly the options are looking rather stretched.
Hazard is clearly not up to speed yet, having suffered from a serious ankle problem in the summer. That showed at Selhurst Park and without Morata he must step up; Roma are unlikely to defend as deep as Palace did, so there will be more space in behind, but they will also get a lot of players around Dzeko. Nainggolan could get space in the middle of midfield and beyond because N’Golo Kante is also missing. He was the main reason Chelsea became so compact last season and they could be left open on the counter attack here.
Roma have enough quality to hurt Chelsea and could easily come away with a point. They rode their luck against Atletico on Matchday 1 and probably should have lost, but they defended well enough to keep it at 0-0. This game promises goals and the most likely man for the visitors is Dzeko, be it in a score draw at 7/2 or boldly to score first at 1-1 at 30/1, both with Coral. But home advantage could also be crucial.
Key battle: Tiemoue Bakayoko vs Radja Nainggolan
With no Kante, there will be extra pressure on Bakayoko to marshall the midfield. Roma are an energetic side who look to get the ball into Nainggolan as much as they can. The Belgian will move around and try to pull the Chelsea players out of position, and the wall that would stop him has been weakened.
It will be very interesting to see if Bakayoko can step up and just how much the injuries to Kante and Morata will have at both ends of the pitch.