Football

Morata warns of danger in Rome

Chelsea striker believes Roma 'deserve' to beat 
them a fortnight ago

GROUP C

 AS ROMA CHELSEA

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has said that AS Roma are better than fellow Group C rivals Atletico Madrid, and "deserved" to beat his side a fortnight ago.

The Blues have a score to settle with the Italian outfit when they clash in the Champions League at the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Two weeks ago, Antonio Conte's men squandered a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge, and needed a late Eden Hazard goal to snatch a 3-3 draw that kept his side top of the group.

That performance convinced Morata that Roma will pose a serious threat in their upcoming fixture.

The ex-Juventus striker told Gazzetta dello Sport: "Roma impressed me in London.

"They deserved to win (against Chelsea).

"This time, however, we start from scratch and after these three wins in a row, I think Chelsea will be more fired up."

"Who do I choose between Roma and Atletico? Roma," he added.

"They posed us several problems in London. We played the perfect game in Madrid, but Roma have something extra over Atletico."

I am happy to play against my old team because I have big respect. I had two wonderful years there... The players, the team, the board and the fans were always standing behind me. Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger on facing AS Roma, for whom he made 72 appearances

With Hazard and Roma's Edin Dzeko each bagging a brace in the six-goal thriller, the two players are expected to be a key part of Conte and Eusebio di Francesco's plans in the return leg.

Hazard, 26, has warned he is ready to hit top form in a pivotal week for the Londoners after scoring the winner in Saturday's 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

Chelsea will play Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday morning.

"I'm training hard, the injury is the past. I'm fully ready for the next game, I just want to play," Hazard, who returned from an ankle injury last month, told Chelsea TV.

"A big week is coming for me, so it was important also for the confidence to stay high. We are full of confidence now, two big games in Champions League and Premier League. And we are ready to play both."

Hazard, who has scored 58 goals in 181 appearances for the Blues, has netted thrice in his last three games (all competitions).

But his opposite number in Rome, 31-year-old former Man City forward Dzeko, has equally impressive statistics, scoring 72 times in 189 games in England before heading for Italy in 2015.

Last season, he scored 29 league goals for Roma, helping them to second place in Serie A and was a surprise inclusion in the 30-man shortlist for the year's Ballon D'Or award.

This campaign, he has scored 10 goals in all competitions, although he failed to score in Saturday's 1-0 win over Bologna.

Said di Francesco: "Dzeko had opportunities. He told me that the goal is held for Tuesday (against Chelsea), but he was up front chasing down opponents on every ball."

But perhaps the biggest warning came from the Chelsea camp, where Morata is by now all too familiar with the Bosnia and Herzegovina star's prowess.

He said: "Dzeko? He was extraordinary. His first goal was a masterpiece.

"I always liked Dzeko. He's a champion." - WIRE SERVICES

Champions LeagueCHELSEA (EPL)AS ROMA