UYL preview: Changing approach
news Tue 31 Oct 2017
Our Under-19s kick off today’s action in the Italian capital with a UEFA Youth League group game against Roma, live on BT Sport.
There is nothing to separate Chelsea, Roma and Atletico Madrid in Group C, with all three teams having collected six points at the midway stage of the group. Roma were winners at Cobham a fortnight ago, inflicting a first competition defeat on the Blues since November 2014 and placing increased importance on our matchday four trip to the Eternal City.
Defender Josh Grant has started two of our three European outings and has urged his teammates to keep improving in order to advance to the knockout round. The group winners progress straight to the last-16, while the runners-up face an away play-off against a side from the domestic champions path.
‘Ourselves, Roma and Atletico Madrid are all on six points so if we can win, it will be a big step in the right direction,’ the 19-year-old tells the official Chelsea website as we look ahead to the encounter. ‘We know what we did wrong against Roma in the home game, we’ve watched videos back and now we’re going out there to get the win.
‘We didn’t play our best but they weren’t a huge threat either so we were disappointed in our performance. Hopefully we can improve on that.’
English youngsters have been the talk of the nation after winning the Under-17 World Cup final at the weekend, with five Chelsea Academy players involved in the 5-2 victory over Spain. Grant is naturally proud to see those he has played with for almost a decade crowned world champions but after an extended period away from club football, he is also looking forward to having them back among the Chelsea ranks.
‘It’s a great boost for everybody,’ he continues. ‘The boys were class and to get them back in the squad for tomorrow is going to be huge for us. With them coming back, it will really help us out and hopefully after the international break we can really push on.’
Ahead of a sixth game in 18 days for our development squad, including Under-19 fixtures, Grant highlights the advantages of such a hectic and varied programme, while citing the need to constantly adjust and adapt.
‘It’s great because this week we’re playing in three different competitions. We played in the league against Arsenal and we played against Yeovil in the Checkatrade Trophy, which was a completely different test because it was against men, so you have to adapt quickly.
‘You learn so much from these European games; it’s not just about winning your battles, these matches can be very technical and tactical so you have to go into them with a different type of approach.’
Stadio Tre Fontaine is the venue for a 3pm local time kick-off (2pm UK time) and the contest is being screened live on BT Sport 3. There will also be updates throughout on our official Twitter @chelseafc
-Two of our youngsters have penned new contracts at the club in recent days, including Under-18s defender Jack Wakely, who signed his first professional contract until the summer of 2020. Goalkeeper Jared Thompson, on loan at National League South side Chippenham Town, has also put pen to paper on a new deal.