Roma fight for Spalletti

AS Roma's players and management were united behind coach Luciano Spalletti ahead of Tuesday's crucial UEFA Champions League group A clash against Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium.

Roma need to win or risk missing out on qualification for the knock-out stages of Europe's most prestigious competition.

But things are not looking up for the Italians, who have won one and lost two of their first three games in the group.

If they were to lose at home to Chelsea and Romanians Cluj won at home to Bordeaux, Roma would then have to win in Romania to avoid elimination.

But the Italians are in dismal form in the league and their confidence is at rock bottom.

Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Juventus was their fourth league reverse in a row and sixth in nine Serie A matches this season.

Some people have been calling for Spalletti's head but veteran defender Christian Panucci, who used to play for Chelsea, insists the dressing room still supports the coach.

"Everyone has to take his own responsibility," he said. "Before Spalletti arrived here we were going through a similar period.

"And I stress, we don't have any problems with him. After three fantastic years now we're in a pickle. We need to get back on track, starting on Tuesday."

But despite the support, even Spalletti admits that it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he was sacked.

"They (the management) are the ones who represent Roma's interests. Like me, and maybe even more so, they hold the team's interests in their heart and they have to make certain assessments.

"In the meantime I will continue to work as I always do. I have no other options."

One issue for Spalletti is the continuing injury problems suffered by talisman Francesco Totti, who has played no more than a bit part this season and may also miss out on Tuesday.

However, his opposite number at Chelsea Luiz Felipe Scolari also has a number of players out with England full-back Ashley Cole the latest to be confined to the treatment table after injuring his calf in the 5-0 rout of Sunderland on Saturday.

While Cole is rated doubtful for Tuesday, Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba is back, although he will have to content himself with a place on the bench, due to the form of French striker Nicolas Anelka.

"Anelka has the number nine shirt here and tries his best always," said Scolari. "He has more chances now in this side.

"Drogba is back but my decision against Roma is easy. Anelka is in better condition so he plays."

While Anelka, who scored a hat-trick against the Black Cats is in good form, so too is England midfielder Frank Lampard, who notched his 100th league goal in the romp.

"That is a fantastic record for a midfield player," said Scolari. "We need to think about who is the best in the world in that position, and maybe it is him."

Chelsea are hoping to go one better than they did a year ago, when misses from captain John Terry and Anelka cost them the Champions League crown in a penalty shoot-out against Manchester United.

And things are looking good this season under their new Brazilian coach as they are in fine form in their domestic league have just gone top following that victory.

They are also in command of Group A with a three-point lead over Cluj and four points to Roma and Bordeaux.

Victory for them and a success for the Romanians at home to Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux would see the Londoners qualify for the second round with two games to spare.