Analysing Chelsea's Champions League group stage opponents
Chelsea are back in the Champions League after a year's 'sabbatical'. Antonio Conte's Chelsea are in good form right now as they are on a run of 3 convincing wins but are just settling in.
Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger, and Tiemoue Bakayoko have gelled well with their new teammates and with Eden Hazard returning from injury, they are only going to improve. The Blues' have not included Diego Costa in the squad but have a lot of youngsters in the squad.
The three clubs who'll be joining in Group C will be Atletico Madrid, AS Roma and Qarabag FK. Here's a detailed look at the three teams:
Known for their defending and highly physical game, Atletico Madrid are easily the toughest opponents for Chelsea in the group stage. They have not managed to sign any new players this summer due to their transfer ban but the team is still intact.
Antonie Griezmann was to join Manchester United and Alexandre Lacazette replacing him but the former Real Sociedad man decided not to leave when the transfer ban was not lifted.
Best player: Antonie Griezmann – Easily their best player who could prove tricky for the solid Chelsea defense to handle. Apart from him, Koke and Saul Niguez can be the ones to cause trouble.
It would interesting to see how Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata fare against the Atletico Madrid defense. Diego Simeone will have them marked by 2 players for sure.
Weakness: Overly defensive – They sit back and defend a lot. It has back fired for them often in the Champions League.
Antonio Rudiger is heading back to Roma just months after signing for Chelsea. Former Chelsea player, Mohamed Salah has also left Roma for Liverpool and the Serie A side aren't as good as they were last season.
They have made some good signings but it wouldn't make them as strong as they were last season. However, they still have enough firepower in the team to make things difficult for the Blues.
Best player: Radja Nainggolan – Antonio Conte has been chasing Nainggolan ever since he joined Chelsea. The Belgian is Roma's best player and it is no surprise that Conte wanted him. He's very good on the ball and can score some stunning goals from long range.
Weakness: Defense – They might be very good in attack but their defense is shaky. Should Hazard and Morata click, things would be easy for Chelsea to grab all 6 points from the 2 fixtures against the Italian side.
The Azerbaijani champions are making their Champions League debut. After 4 failed attempts of making it out of the qualifiers, they have made it and what a group to get into.
They have played in the Europa League but never made it out of the group stage. They are undoubtedly the minnows of the group but needn't be taken lightly. A trip to Azerbaijan would be an intimidating one and coming out with all 3 points wouldn't be a big thing on paper, but in reality, only the players there will know how difficult it would be.
Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, and AS Roma will fight it out for the top 2 spots but Qarabag might have a say in the outcome of the league should they pull off a magical result.
Best player: Dino Ndlovu – He scored 15 goals last season and was the only player to reach double figures for them. He could prove to be a tricky customer to deal with for the Chelsea defense.
Weakness: Inexperience – They are making their debut in the league. They might be champions of their league but they have not played against opponents of this caliber.