IT’S the penultimate stage of the group phase of this season’s Champions League as clubs put it all on the line to qualify for the knockout stages. Here’s our best picks for matchday 10.
Qarabag v Chelsea
Qarabag were always going to be up against it after being drawn into one of the toughest groups – but they have managed to pull two resilient draws against Athletico Madrid in their past two encounters.
Chelsea, however, is an opponent they won’t want to see following their 6-0 thrashing in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge. The English champions cut the Champions League newcomers to shreds and were hardly challenged in their own half.
Antonio Conte’s side will know nothing but a win will do if his side has any hope of upstaging Roma and topping the group. Qarabag have shown little by way of attack this season, managing just two goals from their four matches and Conte’s compact lineup will likely frustrate the Azerbaijan outfit and force them to play on the counter – something Chelsea a quite adept at repelling.
Qarabag have struggled with discipline of late with four send-offs from their past six matches – so don’t be surprised to see them fail to finish the game with 11 players once again.
Prediction: Chelsea win to nil @ $1.90
Athletico Madrid v Roma
Currently, Roma are one of the most in-form clubs in Europe. The Italian side are riding a sensational six-game winning streak across both the league and Champions League and includes victories over Chelsea, Lazio and Fiorentina. During this impressive streak, Roma have conceded just three measly goals and kept four clean sheets – which holds them in great stead as they travel to take on an out of sorts Athletico side.
Diego Simeone’s squad look a far cry from the battle-hard club that consistently performs in Europe’s elite club competition. Consecutive draws to minnows Qarabag have Athletico on the brink of elimination and Roma will no doubt look for the killer blow.
Attack is clearly a huge problem for Athletico right now with just two goals to show for their four matches. Roma’s front trio of Edin Dzeko, Stefan El Shaarawy and Diego Perrotti are firing on all cylinders right now and they will no doubt relish going up against what is looking like a very ageing Athletico backline.
Prediction: Roma or draw @ $1.80