Manchester City’s trip to Napoli and Chelsea’s return match against AS Roma highlight the fixtures for Matchday 4 in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
The Cityzens are firmly in control of Group F, but facing one of Serie A’s most exciting teams away will represent their toughest test of the group stage. Meanwhile, Chelsea have struggled somewhat on all fronts lately, with their 3-3 draw against Roma at Stamford Bridge last time out in Europe a symbol of those issues.
Roma vs Chelsea
The Blues need a win to reassert themselves in Group C.
Dzeko is in fine form, having scored 10 goals across all competitions this season. It will be vital for Radja Nainggolan and team-mate Maxime Gonalons to win the midfield battle and keep Dzeko supplied with chances.
Chelsea could struggle to match Roma’s blend of brawn and technique in the middle if energetic ball-winner N’Golo Kante is still absent through injury. Manager Antonio Conte recently revealed how tough it’s been trying to cope without Kante, per Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard: “For sure it is not simple [for] us to play without N’Golo because he is an important player for us, but now the team is used to playing without him, but I hope to see him back very soon with us.”
At least Conte can count on the artistry of winger Eden Hazard. Like Dzeko, the Belgium international bagged a brace in the first meeting between these two sides.
Hazard has been gradually playing his way back into form after injury, resuming his role as the chief creative force in Chelsea’s ranks:
There will be goals for both sides again, but not as many as last time, with caution likely to control both teams in what could be a decisive match in helping decide the outcome of the group.
Napoli vs. Manchester City
Napoli will provide the sternest examination of City’s suspect defence this season. The Serie A outfit is blessed with an abundance of talent in the final third.
Wingers Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne offer goals and assists, while the pace and movement of Dries Mertens can trouble any defence. Mertens’ runs dovetail with the vision and craft of Insigne, a player coming into his own creatively, as WhoScored.com demonstrated:
The Cityzens carry their own significant attacking threat. Manager Pep Guardiola’s armoury is headlined by the rampant strike partnership of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
Yet it’s in central midfield where City are strongest. It’s a case of if one doesn’t get you, the other will.
Kevin De Bruyne is the attacking midfielder most teams fear, but the 31-year-old David Silva has lost none of his intelligence and class between the lines. As if Silva and De Bruyne weren’t enough, Guardiola can also turn to Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva.
Whatever combination the manager chooses, City are sure to create a host of scoring opportunities. Fortunately for the Premier League leaders, they have a strong history of peppering the Napoli goal.
Goals galore is a good bet here, with City’s deep forward line just about edging things.
City can all but sew up their group, while Chelsea will stay in touch in theirs. Similarly, Manchester United should seal Group A with a win over Benfica at Old Trafford. Liverpool will inflict another heavy defeat on Maribor.
One Premier League side not likely to win is Tottenham Hotspur. Fitness doubts over star striker Harry Kane, who missed Saturday’s Premier League meeting with United because of a hamstring injury, will likely doom Spurs against holders Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium.
Elsewhere, Celtic will again fall to Bayern Munich, this time in Glasgow.
Tuesday, October 31
8.45 p.m Manchester United vs. Benfica: 3-0
8.45 p.m FC Basel vs. CSKA Moscow: 2-1
8.45 p.m Celtic vs. Bayern Munich: 1-3
8.45 p.m Paris Saint-Germain vs. Anderlecht: 4-0
8.45 p.m AS Roma vs. Chelsea: 1-1
8.45 p.m Atletico Madrid vs. Qarabag: 2-0
8.45 p.m Olympiakos vs. Barcelona: 0-2
8.45 p.m Sporting CP vs. Juventus: 1-2
Wednesday, November 1
6 p.m Besiktas vs. AS Monaco: 2-1
8:45 p.m Liverpool vs. Maribor: 5-1
8.45 p.m Sevilla vs. Spartak Moscow: 3-2
8.45 p.m Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Feyenoord: 3-1
8.45 p.m Napoli vs. Manchester City: 2-3
8.45 p.m FC Porto vs. RB Leipzig: 1-1
8.45 p.m Tottenham Hotspur vs. Real Madrid: 1-2
8.45 p.m Borussia Dortmund vs. APOEL: 2 – 1
Culled from Bleacherreport.