Roma v Atletico Madrid – Stadio Olimpico, Rome – 13 September, 2017 – UEFA Champions League – Group C preview
Atletico Madrid looked shaky when they started the 2017-18 La Liga season with a 2-2 draw against unfancied Girona. But Los Colchoneros were back to their normal self beating Las Palmas 1-5 in an away game.
Antionne Griezmann who was red-carded in the La Liga opener should be back to restore the Atletico attack to full-strength when they visit the Stadio Olimpico on September 13th for their Champions League opener in the Roma v Atletico Madrid clash.
Atletico have a terrific record in the Group stages, topping it in the 2016-17 season even with a team like Bayern Munich in it. Apart from Griezman who is undoubtedly one of Europe's leading strikers now, people like Carrasco and Koke in the middle and Giménez and Godin at the back give Atletico a lot of depth.
Atletico have a tough La Liga outing at Valencia before they fly to Rome. But that should hardly dent their performance at the Olympico stadium given the quality Diego Simeone has at his disposal.
In Diego Godin, José Gimenez and Stefan Savic, Los Colchoneros can boast of one of the most dogged defenses in the world, one that Roma will find very difficult to penetrate. Missed will be the experience and brilliance of the retired legend, Francesco Totti and the daring, speed and goal-mouth enterprise of Mohamaed Salah (sold to Liverpool for £37 million).
Edin Dzeko seems the only goal-getting option for the Giallorossi at the moment what with wingers Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy not being able to make any impact of late.
In 24-year old Antonio Rudiger, Roma lost a defender with immense talent to Chelsea. The £8.75 million Man City defender, Aleksandar Kolarov, is expected to fill in the space created by Rudiger and lend some beef to the host defense on Wednesday in the Roma v Atletico Madrid match.
Watch the skills of Patrik Schick
Patrik Schick, 21-year Czech-born striker on loan from Sampdoria could very well feature in the clash against Atletico given his scoring track record. Schick found the back of the net on 13 occasions from his 35 appearances for Sampdoria over two seasons.
Coach Eusebio Di Francesco needs to ensure that he takes a lead in Rome, for his team's return trip to Madrid in September 27th would be a very difficult one – which means he needs goals. So far Roma has got only a couple of goals from as many matches (Dzeko and Kolarov being the scorers). A tough away outing against Sampdoria this weekend won't make things much better for the Giallorossi going into their first UCL clash.
Bookmakers are giving Atletico Madrid a slight edge to emerge victorious from September 13th's game, although a draw cannot be ruled out.