Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Roma at the Stadio Olimpico this evening as their impressive start to the Champions League group stage continues to come undone.
The Blues were warned of the clinical attacking prowess this Roma side possess when they saw their 2-0 lead rapidly disappear in the 3-3 draw between the two teams at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but tonight has shown they simply didn’t learn their lesson. A Stephan El Shaarawy rocket put Chelsea a goal behind after just 38 seconds, and things only got worse throughout the 90 minutes that followed.
Antonio Conte couldn’t have looked more miserable at full time following his first ever game in Italy as the manager of a foreign side, but in truth Chelsea were fortunate it wasn’t worse. If there was a moment to sum up this evening’s game it was the shocking sight of Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta all running to try and dispossess Edin Dzeko, while Diego Perotti stood unmarked at the back post. At that point the game was already gone, and Perotti somehow missed, but Chelsea’s centre backs cannot hide from the blatant lack of organisation they and the rest of the team showed during tonight’s humiliation.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) October 31, 2017
Conte was brave, or rather a tad naïve, to field a 3-4-3 formation with a midfield pairing of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas at its core for this big away European tie. As a duo, Bakayoko and Fabregas are still yet to control a game despite playing together on a number of occasions during the absence of N’Golo Kante. Chelsea fans will be massively relieved that the French midfielder who is so integral to the team’s fortunes will almost certainly return for the visit of Manchester United on Sunday.
That said, Chelsea had enough opportunities in the opening 45 minutes of this game to change their fortunes. Despite falling behind so early on, the Blues missed two good chances even within the opening five minutes as both Pedro and Eden Hazard failed to truly test Roma’s Allison. That proved to be a tendency that continued right up until half-time as Hazard continued to shoot straight at the goalkeeper before Morata and Bakayoko each missed opportunities they really should have scored.
Chelsea’s lack of quality in the opposition’s penalty area was a major problem, but when combined with some catastrophic errors in their own eighteen-yard area the game quickly fell away. There were several identifiable defensive faults in the build up to El Shaarawy’s first goal of the evening, but the winger was handed his second of the night on a silver platter. A long ball towards the Chelsea goal was unforgivably avoided by Antonio Rudiger who simply let the ball passed him and into El Shaarawy’s path presumably as a result of miscommunication with his teammates.
If the Londoners were to stand any chance of getting back in to the game as Roma managed to when visiting England’s capital a fortnight ago they were going to have to come out with considerably more intensity for the second half, something they failed to do. Thibaut Courtois was right in saying in his post-match interview that Chelsea performed far better in the first half than they did in the second, as a long-range strike from Diego Perotti that handed Roma a third goal was the only real highlight amid a lacklustre display from the visitors in the second period.
The fatigue and lack of optimism shown by the Chelsea squad in the late stages will be as equally worrying as this result for Antonio Conte. Ahead of a daunting fixture against Jose Mourinho’s United side, the Blues needed to provide reason for positivity with a fightback despite falling 3-0 behind, but instead supporters have been left feeling disheartened on their travels home.
That feeling of worry relates only to this weekend’s crunch Premier League tie though, as Qarabag’s surprising 1-1 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico means Chelsea should still manage to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League comfortably. However, as Conte made clear after tonight’s game, the Premier League Champions must only look at themselves before working hard to make sure a repeat of tonight’s horror show doesn’t occur.