Roma’s strong run of form prior to the international break came to an abrupt halt at the Olimpico against top of the table Napoli on Saturday. However, the team will have no time to hang their heads in defeat with another tough fixture around the corner. On Wednesday, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will welcome the Giallorossi to Stamford Bridge for their third match of the Champions League group stage. Roma can ill afford to dwell on today’s loss and come out flat against the Blues like they did against Napoli.
Roma did not play well for the majority of the match and a similar start could mean another embarrassment in Europe’s premier competition. This is something Roma have become too familiar with and will need to avoid Wednesday. Roma did improve for the last half hour or so against Napoli and will need to carry that positive momentum into their match in London.
Roma will also be hoping to get healthier before Wednesday. The Giallorossi bench was very thin against Napoli with Strootman, El Shaarawy Defrel, and Schick all out injured. Rick Karsdorp finally dressed for the first time but was an unused substitute and I wouldn’t expect him to make his debut in a game of Wednesday’s stature either. In another injury blow, Manolas went down with an apparent groin pull in the second half and immediately called for a substitution. From the look of it, the Greek may miss considerable time which would be a huge blow to the Roma back line. Roma will hope to at least get Strootman and possibly El Shaarawy or Schick back to give them some much needed depth for Wednesday’s encounter.
How I Would Line Up (as of now)
With the lack of options for DiFrancesco I’d have to imagine that the majority of Saturday’s starting XI will feature again in London. Roma fans can only hope that they will come out motivated and hungry rather than disappointed and flat after Saturday’s defeat. Only time will tell if any of the injured players will recover, but if the forwards can’t recover in time I would change the formation a bit if Strootman is able to go. Below is how I would lineup if this is the case.
Florenzi Fazio Juan Jesus Kolarov
I know it goes against EDF’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, but with all of the injuries up front and probably losing Manolas at the back I’d like to see Roma play to their strength in midfield (assuming they get Strootman back). I think a 4-3-1-2 could suit them with the personnel that they likely will have available.
Bruno Peres wasn’t impressive today and I’d prefer Florenzi at RB in a big game like this. Playing four midfielders would also allow for them to provide more cover and help defend with our best center back probably out. If another player like El Shaarawy were fit in time, then EDF could play his 4-3-3 and still play Florenzi at RB, which I prefer at that position. Only time will tell how this will play out, as it all depends on player fitness and we still have a few days to go.
What’s at Stake
The only positive for Roma going into the match may be the fact that Chelsea are in a bit of the same boat. Chelsea are coming off a very disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace this weekend and haven’t been in great form. This season in the Premier League, Chelsea have a 4-1-3 record and 15 points. The Blues also have some injury concerns of their own with Alvaro Morata iffy to return in time for Wednesday’s match while N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, and Victor Moses all look to be out.
It looks like this will be a battle of two hobbled sides which may leave Chelsea more vulnerable than usual. I know it’s a road game in the Champions League and those are always a risky proposition, especially for Roma. However, if the Giallorossi can bounce back mentally and physically, since I doubt there ill be much line-up turnover thanks to the injuries, then a valuable point or three could be ripe for the taking.
Any kind of result in London would be a big result as Roma (4 pts) are currently second in the group behind Chelsea (6 pts) and ahead of Atletico (1 pt). A point would keep them there no matter what Atletico do against Qarabag (we will assume a win and three points), while a win would put them top of the group.
I don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch, especially when Roma lay an egg on the road in Europe so often. The point is that they must bounce back quickly to avoid squandering a potential big opportunity against a wounded Cheslea side. I’m sure there’s a Chelsea blogger out there thinking the same about Roma as Chelsea aim to put a stranglehold on the group with a win. It seems to me that the team that is able to put its Saturday defeat behind them more quickly will have the advantage. We can only hope that it’ll be the Giallorossi.