By Joe Avicolli
Roma have managed to pull through with a satisfying 1-1 result in their Europa League round of 16 first leg clash with Fiorentina at the Stadio Franchi on Thursday despite a number of struggles throughout the match.
The capital city club had trouble taking control of the game in the first half, as they went down 1-0 after Daniele De Rossi made a poor mistake that allowed Josip Ilicic to put the Viola ahead in the 17th minute, though Seydou Keita was able to score a match-saving header for the visitors in the 77th minute shortly after Adem Ljajic missed a penalty. While Ljajic’s penalty could have meant an important win for Rudi Garcia’s men as they prepare for the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico, Keita’s crucial away goal has kept the Giallorossi in the running to possibly advance to the next round of the tournament.
According to UEFA.com, Roma had a slight edge over their hosts when it came to ball possession and were able to keep hold of the ball for 51% of the match. WhoScored.com reports that Roma also kept a small advantage over the Viola in completed passes as well, with the Lupi completing 80% of their passes compared to Fiorentina’s 78% completion rate. Adem Ljajic managed to earn the highest percentage of completed passes out of the starting 22 players from both teams as 94% of the passes he made were successful. Seydou Keita touched the ball more than every other player that stepped foot on the pitch, making 69 touches throughout the game.
The Giallorossi took a total of nine shots, with four shots landing on target, while the Gigliati took 16 shots with only two landing on target. Fiorentina forward Josip Ilicic took the most shots out of all players, tallying up a total of five during his time on the pitch, while Keita, Ljajic, Juan Iturbe and Radja Nainggolan were all tied with two shots each for Roma. Garcia’s squad once again favored the the right wing for their attacking plays, making 44% of their offensive plays up the right side, while Vincenzo Montella’s men preferred the left wing where they made 40% of their attacking plays. Most of the match’s action took place in the middle third of the pitch, with 45% of the game’s intensity taking place in the midfield. Viola defender Marcos Alonso was named man of the match with a 7.8 rating, but was closely followed by veteran midfielder Seydou Keita who earned a 7.7 rating.
Roma will now have to focus on their upcoming Serie A meeting with Sampdoria at home on March 16 before preparing for their second leg against Fiorentina, also in Rome, on March 19. The capital city club will certainly be looking to take advantage of their away goal and would guarantee themselves a spot in the Europa League quarter finals with a win.