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Can Roma Make Up for Their Loss in Last Season’s Final?

Can Roma Make Up for Their Loss in Last Season’s Final
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Roma nearly missed out on back-to-back European titles in the last campaign. A season after being crowned champions of the inaugural UEFA Conference League against Feyenoord Rotterdam, Roma yet again made it to the final of the next tier competition, losing to Jose Luis Mendilibar’s Sevilla on penalties.

Roma’s route to the final saw them knock out Real Sociedad, Feyenoord Rotterdam, and German outfit Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Argentinian playmaker Paulo Dybala opened the scoring in the final as Gianluca Mancini found him in open space in the 35th minute.

The Gillarosi defender, however, turned villain 20 minutes later as he converted into his own goal. Eventually, the Rome-based outfit lost on penalties to the seasoned competition specialists.

This season, Roma are back in contention for another UEFA Europa League triumph, with their league form leaving little to be desired. The club has seen mixed fortunes across the entirety of this campaign; however, a couple of games separate them from the prized trophy.

Under new management, they look like a different side and are now playing with a certain swagger and belief, raising questions about whether they can go all the way on the continental front.

Owing to the club’s recent form, Roma tickets have been well sought after ahead of the semifinals. Despite the uninspiring first half of the season, the second half has seen much better performances owing to a plethora of factors.

Quality Additions to the Squad

After the final defeat, the summer window began with the arrival of Ivorian center-back Evan N’dicka on a free from Eintracht Frankfurt. While it’s been the norm of As Roma over the last couple of years, midfielder Houssem Aouar also arrived similarly from Olympique Lyonnais.

Leeds duo Diego Llorente and Rasmus Kristensen also arrived on respective loans from Leeds United to help shore up the defensive unit. World Cup winner Leandro Paredes arrived from Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth around $4.1 million.

Renato Sanches also secured a loan to expand their business in Paris. Romelu Lukaku, from West London, was the biggest arrival of the summer.

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Fractured relationships prevented a return move to Inter Milan and with a place in the Chelsea first-team squad out of contention with his poorly received interview two seasons prior. Lukaku’s arrival to familiar ground has seen a healthy goalscoring return in Roma’s season.

Seven goals have been scored so far across their continental campaign, with eleven more in the domestic league. De Rossi’s strike partnership with Paulo Dybala, in the absence of Tammy Abraham, has been the go-to option since his arrival.

The Gaffer Conundrum

Jose Mourinho is regarded far and wide as one of the most decorated coaches in modern football. In the European phase, he’s won titles with FC Porto and Inter Milan in the Champions League and the Europa League with Manchester United.

While last season’s attempt fell short with As Roma, Mourinho was prevented from a chance of a second trial as he was shown the exit doors at the turn of the year. De Rossi, who has now commanded a contract extension ahead of the next season, has revamped their fortunes.

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They got past Feyenoord Rotterdam, Brighton and Hove Albion, and domestic neighbors AC Milan to secure a spot in the final four. Boasting relatively little experience on the biggest stage, it’s been a bold bet to entrust the club’s fate to the young gaffer.

However, it seems to have been a proper move now, and they could even be rewarded for it. De Rossi’s side would be more than inspired, with a large chunk of last season’s final losing team still present.

Particularly, with qualification for the UEFA Champions League via the usual league spots looking quite uncertain, it’s imperative the club take all they can from their continental exploits.

Inter Milan has assuredly run away with the league title, and the other clubs are continuing to battle it out. Italy will get an extra qualification spot ahead of next season.

Thiago Motta’s Bologna, however, has continued to stake claim amongst the top sides, as Roma’s fate continues to hang in the balance for now. De Rossi, a no-nonsense player in his days, has the nerve to handle his side with a steel arm if necessary.

What is Next for Roma in the Europa League?

Roma put AC Milan in their place in the all-action Italian affair. Center-back Gianluca Mancini found the back of the net in either tie, and Paulo Dybala’s extra goal proved all that mattered.

Roma’s biggest test so far will be that of Xabi Alonso’s high-flying Leverkusen. Already crowned German league champions, the side has remained unbeaten for the entirety of the season and has sights set on an out-of-the-blues treble charge.

Faced with the Germans, Roma would face a tricky test, but given their pedigree on the continent, Roma would be confident they could indeed cause an upset.

Romelu Lukaku is already back in action despite the injury scare in the return leg with AC Milan and looks set to have a fully stacked XI for their semi-final clash. 

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The fixture will be a stage for two young managers to exert their prowess and tactical onus. A video on social media caught Alonso and his backroom staff checking their semi-final draw.

Alonso explained his reaction: “We are happy to have qualified for the semis, and we are happy to meet Roma again.  “They are different from last season, but football gives a second chance, and we want to prove we are better than them.”

Recall Roma knocked out Bayer in the semi-final last season. Roma would expect to trust their usual back-three system with a full-fledged all-star lineup.

Mehmet Zeki Celik will miss out on suspension, and the full-back spots will open up to Angelino and Rasmus Kristensen. Paulo Dybala will take a spot up front with one of Romelu Lukaku and Tammy Abraham.

Aqeel Ahmad
the authorAqeel Ahmad
Aqeel Ahmad is a passionate sports fan who enjoys reading and writing about the most recent sporting events taking place all around the world.

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