The Champions League brings two of the world’s great cities into contest. Chelsea club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look forward to a big Stamford Bridge night.


TALKING POINTS
So Roma lost 0-4 to Inter at the weekend, making it five defeats in nine Serie A and Champions League matches to date.

They are 14th in the chase for the Scudetto after seven games, having finished runners-up last season. Some blame the summer personnel changes for their current woes. Ten players left, including Ludovic Giuly and Alessandro Mancini. Veteran Max Tonnetto has lost his left-back slot to new man John Arne Riise, one of ten new arrivals who have yet to really convince.

More than that, perhaps, key players have been unavailable or off form. Crucially, centre-back pair Philippe Mexès and Christian Panucci were suspended for Sunday.

More importantly, Francesco Totti, the touchstone of Roma, is recuperating from knee surgery, and actually started his first league game of the season in the drubbing by Inter.

He lasted just over an hour but afterwards described the way his side is playing as ‘ugly’. There has been no repeat of that strut after beating Leverkusen five years ago, when he stripped down to a rather fetching canary yellow lycra leotard.

Yet the Jack-the-lad pretty boy, who is feverishly introduced to the crowd before kick off as ‘our capitano, the emperor of Rome’, played very well against José Mourinho’s side and his match-changing ability should not be underestimated.

KEY STAT
Roma have a poor record on English soil. In 14 European matches they have won only one, drawn four and lost nine, their sole success a 1-0 Uefa Cup win at Anfield in 2001. They still lost 1-2 on aggregate.

Over here, ‘beautiful’ Chelsea has suddenly replaced the supposedly ‘ugly’ old Blues of the past in the eyes of the media.

Performances are mirroring the autumn of 2004/5, when goals were coming freely and belief pulsed through the team. Saturday’s win at Boro was Chelsea’s biggest ever on Teesside. We hadn’t scored five there in nearly 80 years, since a 5-4 win in 1929.

And among the delights, perhaps the most potent was the sight of Frank Lampard smiling with exhilaration at his goal, the happiest he has appeared since his family tragedy last spring. Frank is obviously thoroughly enjoying his football under Luiz Felipe Scolari’s mature, inspiring regime.

Happy Frank

Our last appearance in this competition was arguably our most disappointing game under the Brazilian manager, a 0-0 draw in Romania against Group A surprise package CFR Cluj.

The only other team to have successfully ‘parked the bus’ against Chelsea this season were Tottenham. It is a source of immense shame that we have still contributed half of the current points total in Spurs’ staying-up fund. Although their formation is similar to the north Londoners’, Roma aren’t predisposed to defending like that.

Chelsea have met several Italian sides in European competitions – most memorably Roma (two – literally – pitched battles) in 1965, Vicenza (for Mark Hughes’ volley) in 1998, Milan in 1999 (‘oh Dennis Wise? ‘) , and Lazio in 2003, the 4-0 rout in the ground they share with Roma. Which is also the venue for this year’s Champions League final.

This is the first of the usual back-to-back ties around the midway point of the group stage. We meet again in Rome, the eternal city, in just under two weeks’ time.

Other Group A fixture
Wed 7.45pm Bordeaux v CFR Cluj

Champions League group A table

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Chelsea

2

1

1

0

4

0

4

CFR Cluj

2

1

1

0

2

1

4

Roma

2

1

0

1

4

3

3

Bordeaux

2

0

0

2

1

7

0


TACTICAL BRIEF
To some extent depleted Roma were unfortunate on Sunday and everything fell into place for Inter during their 4-0 win. Luciano Spalletti’s side had 56 per cent of the possession, 23 shots, seven on target, and won eight corners. It was, they might reason, just one of those days.

Yet the goals conceded also heightened weaknesses evident in previous results this season. Spalletti uses the same 4-2-3-1 system that brought success last season, preferring (like Ramos at Spurs) two versatile central midfielders to a Makelele or Mikel type whose task is primarily to break-up opposition attacks.

Ahmed Barusso, now at Siena, has been arguably their only genuine ball-winning middleman, and he played alongside David Pizarro in last season’s 1-1 group draw at home to Manchester United.

That role – reducing pressure on the defence – now usually falls to sub Matteo Brighi, Daniele De Rossi’s deputy.

Against the power of Inter’s middle three, put-upon central midfielders De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani were found wanting. When in possession, the all-action playmaking midfielder De Rossi is one of Roma’s key men, especially now that Totti’s powers are on the wane, but Inter showed that problems arise when the Romans lose the ball.

Because of the way Spalletti makes his side attack when in possession in the adversaries’ half, huge gaps appear when their actions break down, especially through the middle and down their left flank. Roma attack in waves and defend in trickles.

Luiz Felipe Scolari will want his midfield to do as good a job as Inter in overpowering Roma’s centre and getting at their vulnerable back four. The Brazilian will be well aware that Roma do not like to be pressed and are vulnerable to quick counters. The Blues’ ability to retain possession and crank up the pressure will be important, and the full backs and wingers could be particularly effective.

Roma’s left back John Arne Riise, with his direct, physical style, has taken time to adapt to Serie A, and the tendency that frustrated Benitez – switching off during defensive duties – has revealed itself in Italy.

At the weekend against Inter he coped reasonably well against another import finding his feet, winger Ricardo Quaresma, but was left waving his hand up for offside while Ibrahimovic lobbed the opener over Roma’s goalkeeper Doni (one of seven Brazilian squad members, incidentally).

Confusion reigned in the centre of defence too. Simone Loria, who has been impulsive and unimpressive since arriving from Siena, had a poor game against Inter alongside the Brazilian Juan. However, both were stand-ins for the usual centre-backs, Mexès and Panucci, suspended following red cards in their surprising 0-1 defeat in Siena.

Former Chelsea man Panucci (pictured below) has converted from full-back to centre in the last year, at the age of 35. Mexès, the commanding centre-back once of Auxerre, also missed Roma’s shock 1-2 home defeat by well-organised CFR Cluj.

Christian Panucci

Upfront, all are eyes are still on Totti when he is fit – which has been all too rare this season. When he is not available the role of playing the ‘one’ in Spalletti’s flexible set-up has been shared by Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic; or Julio Baptista, who arrived from Real Madrid in the summer.

Baptista showed his worth against Bordeaux, scoring twice as a second half sub, but there has been precious little of that for Romanisti fans’ liking. The powerful Brazilian was not used against Inter having travelled in service of his country in midweek.

Roma have other potential threats in their armoury. Simone Perrotta is clever and energetic in the trequartista (three-quarter) spot, what we would call playing ‘in the hole’, while Rodrigo Taddei is a tricky right winger with plenty of pace who uses the ball well. Given that Roma are at their best playing on the edge of their opponents’ box, this match will be an examination of the growing stature and maturity of Mikel.


WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea and AS Roma have met once before in European competition in 1965/66 in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup first round. Chelsea won 4-1 on aggregate in a notoriously fractious two-legged tie.

The first leg was at Stamford Bridge.
September 22 1965 Chelsea 4 Roma 1
Chelsea Bonetti, Shellito, McCreadie, Hollins, Young, R Harris, Bridges, Graham, Osgood, Venables (c), Fascione.
Scorers Venables 3, Graham
Roma Matteucci, Carpenetti, Ardizzon, Carpanesi, Losi (c), Benaglia, Tomasin, Leonardi, Francesconi, V Benitez, Barison.
Scorer Barison
Attendance 32,753

Our paths have crossed only once since, in a friendly on the 2004/5 pre-season tour of USA. Chelsea won 3-0 in Pittsburgh with goals from Joe Cole, Mateja Kezman and Didier Drogba.

There is a much earlier meeting between Chelsea and an Italian side, in a pioneering cup final that is often overlooked. The 1937 Exhibition Cup was one of the prototypes for the European Cup that came about 18 years later. The official tournament might have arrived sooner had war not intervened, but the inevitability of conflict was all too obvious in the Paris of June 1937.

The football tournament was part of the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne‘ staged in the French capital from May to November. It was a cultural and commercial fair flying the flags of 40 nations, and was billed as ‘a meeting place of harmony and peace’. The dictatorships that had risen to power across Europe, though, saw it simply as a propaganda platform.

In particular the powerfully architected monuments of the Soviets and Germany’s National Socialists vied for attention. But for Italy under Benito Mussolini, sport, especially football, was the symbol of Fascist prestige. At the pinnacle back then were Bologna, bankrolled by Mussolini and title winners four times between 1925 and 1937.

The Po valley club were Italy’s Exhibition Cup entrants, and Chelsea – who had only finished 13th in the league – represented England.

In the first round, Leslie Knighton’s men drew 1-1 after half-an-hour of extra time with French champions Olympique Marseilles in Antibes, on the south coast.

Quaintly, to determine who would progress to the semi-final, lots were drawn – the following day. Chelsea won.

The semi-final took place at the Colombes stadium, northwest Paris. The Pensioners saw off Austria Wien 2-0 with goals from George Gibson and Jimmy Argue, amid booing and demonstrations against the referee. An Austrian player was sent off for rough play, but Chelsea were ‘undoubtedly the superior side, knew more about the finer points of the game, and were much more dangerous near goal,’ according to the Daily Express.

England’s pride now squared up to Bologna for the cup final in Paris on 6 June. It didn’t go well.

‘Chelsea, following their success over the Austrian team in the semi-final, were regarded as favourites to win the trophy,’ wrote the Express. ‘But much to the disappointment of the 10,000 crowd they were outclassed by the Italians. Feeling between players ran high in the second half, and there were several minor “casualties”.’

Bologna were 3-0 up by half-time. Sam Weaver pulled one back but it ended 1-4 to the Italians. In keeping with the propagandist nature of the whole expo, the Italian FA chairman hailed Bologna’s triumph as ‘a victory for fascism.’ Maybe that’s why it’s a forgotten tournament.

Back to the present, and it’s a warm Stamford Bridge welcome to John Arne Riise, veteran of Liverpool’s 2005 League Cup defeat at Chelsea’s hands and scorer of a brilliantly executed own goal in this competition at Anfield last season (pictured below). Salomon Kalou’s assist in that game was every bit as good as his nimble chip for Frank Lampard on Saturday.

How did you score that goal?

Julio Baptista was part of the Arsenal team that was defeated by Chelsea in the 2007 League Cup.

If Totti is absent, Roma’s captain may be Chelsea old boy Christian Panucci. Christian signed for the Blues on loan for a year in 2000 but had his loan transferred to Monaco in the January following the departure of manager Gianluca Vialli. He played 10 games, scoring one goal. Panucci played his 100th European game on matchday two against Bordeaux three weeks ago.

Giallorossi supporters will be well aware that Carlo Cudicini played one game for their city rivals Lazio.


CHELSEA
STATS
This season is our seventh appearance in the Champions League. We have been finalists in 2007/08, semi-finalists in 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2006/07, quarter-finalists in 1999/2000 and the last 16 in 2005/06.

Chelsea‘s last five years in Europe
2003/04 Champions League – semi-finals
2004/05 Champions League – semi-finals
2005/06 Champions League – round of 16
2006/07 Champions League – semi-finals
2007/08 Champions League – runners-up

Chelsea’s overall record in European competition is played 145, won 77, drawn 39, lost 29. This is our 12th season in succession in Europe.

Chelsea have played 73 games in the Champions League proper (excluding qualifying games). We have won 36, drawn 22 and lost 15.

Chelsea are on a 21-game undefeated run (excluding penalty shoot-outs) since our last defeat in Turkey against Fenerbahçe on April 2nd.

We are hoping to extend our club unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge in all competitions to 74 games since our last defeat on February 22 2006, when Barcelona beat a ten-man Chelsea 2-1 in the Champions League. That has been our only home defeat in the last 132 games since February 2004.

In 69 European games at Stamford Bridge Chelsea have lost three times. Only Lazio (1999/2000 1-2), Besiktas (2003/04 0-2) and Barcelona (2005/06 1-2) have defeated us.

Chelsea‘s record against Italian teams
1965/66 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup first round
Roma (h) W 4-1, (a) D 0-0
1965/66 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup third round
AC Milan (a) L 1-2, (h) W 2-1, (a) D 1-1 (won on toss of a coin aet)
1997/98 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final
Vicenza (a) L 0-1, (h) W 3-1
1999/00 Champions League first group stage
AC Milan (h) D 0-0, (a) D 1-1
1999/00 Champions League second group stage
Lazio (a) D 0-0, (h) L 1-2
2003/04 Champions League group stage
Lazio (h) W 2-1, (a) W 4-0

Chelsea‘s last six domestic games

Sep 13

Man City

A

W 3-1

Sep 21

Man Utd

H

D 1-1

Sep 24

Portsmouth

A

W 4-0 League Cup

Sep 27

Stoke City

A

W 2-0

Oct 5

Aston Villa

H

W 2-0

Oct 18

Middlesbrough

A

W 5-0

2008/09 Champions League results

Sep 16 Bordeaux H W 4-0
Oct 1 CFR Cluj A D 0-0

2008/09 Champions League appearances
Bosingwa 2, Cech 2, Lampard 2, Malouda 2, Mikel 2, Terry 2, Anelka 1+1, Ballack 1+1, Kalou 1+1, Alex 1, Bridge 1, Carvalho 1, A Cole 1, J Cole 1, Deco 1, Drogba 1, Belletti 0+2, Di Santo 0+1.

2008/09 Champions League goals
Anelka 1, J Cole 1, Lampard 1, Malouda 1.


MILESTONES
Many happy returns to Hilário who celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday (Tuesday) and to Miroslav Stoch, 19 last Sunday.

Congratulations to Carlo Cudicini who kept his 100th clean sheet for the club at Middlesbrough on Saturday. Five of the century were shared as he was a substitute.

Carlo

If selected, Florent Malouda will make his 50th appearance for the club.

ROMA STATS
Major honours
Serie A Champions (3)
1942, 1983, 2001
Italian Cup winners (9)
1964, 1969, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1991, 2007, 2008
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1)
1961
Italian Super Cup (2)
2001, 2007

Roma’s only European success was the Fairs Cup in 1960/61 when they defeated Birmingham 4-2 on aggregate. Fabio Cudicini (Carlo’s dad) played in goal for Roma in both legs. Roma beat Union St Gilloise (1st round), Cologne (QF) and Hibernian (SF) to reach the final that was actually played in September and October of the following season.

They have twice lost out in Uefa finals – the 1984 European Cup on penalties to Liverpool and the 1991 Uefa Cup to Inter Milan over two legs.

Roma qualified for the Champions League as runners-up of Serie A, three points behind champions Inter Milan and so finished as runners-up behind the Nerazzurri for the third successive season.

Roma’s last five years in Europe
2003/04 Uefa Cup – third round
2004/05 Champions League – group stage
2005/06 Uefa Cup – round of 16
2006/07 Champions League – quarter-finals
2007/08 Champions League – quarter-finals

Roma’s Uefa club competition record is played 184, won 86, drawn 41, lost 57. In the European Cup / Champions League they have won 22 of their 61 games.

2008/09 Champions League results

Sep 16 CFR Cluj H L 1-2
Oct 1 Bordeaux A W 3-1

2008/09 Champions League appearances
Aquilani 2, Cicinho 2, De Rossi 2, Doni 2, Panucci 2, Riise 2, Taddei 2, Vučinić 2, Baptista 1+1, Cassetti 1, Menez 1, Mexès 1, Perrotta 1, Tonetto 1, Brighi 0+1, Loria 0+1, Montella 0+1, Okaka Chuka 0+1, Totti 0+1.

2008/09 Champions League goals
Baptista 2, Panucci 1, Vučinić 1.

Roma’s only win away from the Stadio Olimpico this season was at Bordeaux. They’ve lost all three in Serie A and lost on penalties in the Italian Super Cup to Inter in José Mourinho’s first game in charge.

MOST RECENT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LINE-UP
Wednesday October 1, Bordeaux (away) W 3-1

Doni

Cicinho Mexas Panucci (c) Riise

De Rossi Aquilani

Taddei Perrotta Menez

Vucinic

Substitutes
Baptista for Menez (51), Okaka Chuka for Aquilani (63)
Brighi for Vucinic (84)

Scorer Vucinic 64, Baptista 71, 83.
Booked Panucci, Taddei, Baptista, De Rossi

Bordeaux scorer Gourcuff 8

On Sunday evening, Inter returned to the top of Serie A thanks to a resounding 4-0 win at Roma. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a goal in each half. Roma’s team was: (4-2-3-1) Doni; Cicinho, Loria, Juan, Riise; De Rossi, Aquilani; Taddei (Okaka Chuka 75), Perrotta (Brighi 78), Vucinic; Totti (Menez 69).

Roma’s last six in Serie A

Sep 13

Palermo

A

L 1-3

Sep 20

Reggina

H

W 3-0

Sep 24

Genoa

A

L 1-3

Sep 28

Atalanta

H

W 2-0

Oct 5

Siena

A

L 0-1

Oct 19

Inter

H

L 0-4

Serie A table

P

GD

PTS

1

Inter

7

8

16

2

Udinese

7

7

14

3

Catania

7

4

14

4

Napoli

7

3

14

5

Lazio

7

5

13

6

AC Milan

7

5

13

7

Fiorentina

7

3

13

8

Atalanta

7

2

13

9

Genoa

7

3

12

10

Palermo

7

0

12

11

Lecce

7

0

9

12

Juventus

7

0

9

13

Siena

7

0

8

14

Roma

7

-4

7

15

Bologna

7

-4

6

16

Chievo

7

-4

6

17

Torino

7

-4

5

18

Sampdoria

7

-7

4

19

Cagliari

7

-8

4

20

Reggina

7

-9

2

THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee Kyros Vassaras is from Greece, as are his assistants. Chelsea have won all four matches he has officiated, including our memorable 2-1 quarter-final win in Valencia in April 2007. The only Roma game he has handled was a 2-1 away win over Real Madrid last season.

OTHERWISE ENGAGED
There are no suspensions on either side. Three yellow cards in the Champions League will result in a one-match ban.

Champions League bookings list
Chelsea Alex 1, Anelka 1, Deco 1.
Roma Baptista 1, Cicinho 1, De Rossi 1, Panucci 1, Taddei 1.

SCOLARI: THIS COULD BE BEAUTIFUL

Felipe Scolari has forecast a treat for the sell-out crowd at tomorrow’s Chelsea v Roma match and for the millions watching on television around the world.

At time the draw was made, this fixture appeared the big one in Group A. Although CFR Cluj have proved to be the Champions League’s big surprise package, last May’s beaten finalists against last season’s Serie A runners-up remains a mouthwatering prospect.

‘I think tomorrow it will be beautiful game,’ Scolari predicts. ‘Roma play like Chelsea. They pass the ball, move, the players don’t kick the ball straight to the front. They try to play like a beautiful team.

‘The characteristics of the players I have at Chelsea now gives me the chance to play more free, more with the ball, but I say this to Chelsea supporters – we play beautiful football but we need three points every game. Without three points it is difficult to arrive in the Final.’

Scolari was speaking ahead of his team’s training session at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening, a session that included Petr Cech and Ricardo Carvalho but saw the two Coles, Joe and Ashley, remain absent.

Not only does Scolari view tomorrow’s game as potentially eye-catching, he also believes it is the key fixture in Chelsea’s group stage campaign.

‘We know that to qualify we need to win tomorrow. If we win we have to play Roma again and Bordeaux away and the last game is at home. The most important game is tomorrow because after if we win or draw one more game, we have qualified for the next stage.’

Before sending John Terry and the players out onto the Bridge pitch, Scolari moved to reassure fans there is no lingering back problem afflicting the captain.

Labelling those who believe Terry would choose to miss England games as ‘crazy’, Scolari ruled out a suggestion that surgery may be needed in the long term and pointed out the player has yet to miss a Chelsea game this campaign.

‘I don’t think John needs more than our medical staff does with him at the moment.

‘He did not play in the national team because he had an injury that in one or two days it was not possible to play. After more days with our medical staff, it is normal a player who has a little problem in the back can play a game.

‘It is normal not to play one or two games. John is a good captain, a good man, sometimes he plays with pain and this is a captain I want. I am one of the best fans for John Terry.’

original link:www.chelseafc.com