UCL Odds: Can Chelsea Top Roma Sans Morata?

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Chelsea (-143) vs Roma (+450), Draw (+305)

Chelsea and Roma meet for another high-stakes Champions League game on Wednesday, October 18th, at Stamford Bridge. Group C has three heavy hitters — Chelsea, Roma, and Atletico Madrid — all fighting for just two spots. As it stands, Chelsea lead the group (2-0-0, 6 points) and Roma (2-1-0, 4 points) trail in second, three points ahead of third-place Atletico (0-1-1, 1 point).

Chelsea have been impressive in the first two fixtures of UCL play, winning both games, including a nail-biting 1-0 victory against Atleti. They’ve also been solid, if not spectacular, in the EPL, sitting fourth in the table with a 4-1-2 record and +6 goal difference.

Former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata has been a key factor to their success, scoring six of Chelsea’s 12 Premier League goals and already establishing himself as one of the top strikers in England. Without him, Chelsea would have been in ruins after former star striker Diego Costa boycotted the team and forced a transfer.

 

 

But it’s been revealed that the hamstring injury that left Morata limping off the field during their loss against Manchester City is more serious than expected. Estimates have him out for four to eight weeks, so it’s extremely unlikely he’ll be match-ready for the clash against Roma.

Without Morata, manager Antonio Conte doesn’t have too many options. His most likely replacement is striker Michy Batshuayi, an overlooked Belgian youngster. He’s scored two Champions League goals in limited minutes. But Conte is still reluctant to make him a central part of the team.

Roma have been overshadowed by other teams, both in Serie A and the Champions League, but they’ve had a pretty good season to date. They’re sitting in fifth place in Serie A despite only losing one game (3-1 to Inter), and have won one and drawn one at the Champions League. They have a game in hand on the four teams above them in the Italian table and would jump past Lazio for fourth if they earn the full three points from that extra match. 

Roma’s roster remains relatively unchanged from last season when they finished second in Serie A. They’re still extremely reliant on Edin Dzeko for goals and midfielders Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman still play a pivotal role in midfield.

Under more desirable circumstances, Chelsea would be the clear pick here. The Blues have been a tough team to beat this season and especially difficult when playing at home. But without Morata, they’re a greatly diminished squad that lacks potency up front. With their star striker sidelined, placing Chelsea at -143 is too generous. Take the value on the Italian side. 

Pick: Roma (+450)