Much has been made about the rotation that Diego Simeone will have to do in order to keep a thin side fit for the first half of the season. Simeone again made some changes to the Atlético Madrid team ahead of their trip to Rome, but it was quite similar to the team that drew at Valencia. Juanfran again started at right back, with Šime Vrsaljko not even in the squad due to an ankle injury. After a poor performance at Mestalla, Yannick Carrasco was replaced by captain Gabi to make a midfield full of natural central midfielders.
In Atleti’s group, Chelsea and AS Roma are obviously the two most dangerous teams, and all three are capable of advancing to the knockout rounds. Chelsea started with an emphatic 6-0 win over Qarabag, which will benefit their goal difference greatly. Picking up early points is important — especially away from home — though Atleti would have much preferred three.
Throughout the entirety of the match Atlético had chances to score in a variety of situations. However, the finishing was just not good enough. The chances were there, but Carrasco, Luciano Vietto, Antoine Griezmann and Saúl Ñíguez especially all missed good chances to open the scoring.
After halftime Atlético again kept finding holes in Roma’s defense, by beating offside traps or via several excellent through balls. Again though, the finishing was not there, which ultimately cost Atleti two points. Ángel Correa came on for Vietto and instantly made an impact with his lightning runs, which really tested Roma. However, both Kostas Manolas and goalkeeper Alisson for Roma were on great form and denied much of Atleti’s progress. Carrasco and Nicolás Gaitán came on for Gabi and Griezmann, but Carrasco again had poor judgment in a few situations, and neither impressed.
A draw is not fatal for the mattress makers at this point; there are several more matches to go which will fill out the group. It was important that Simeone’s men did not lose this match; both Roma and Chelsea would have had an advantage in that case. Chelsea is now the team to beat, and the two matches with them will probably prove pivotal for the group’s outcome.