AS Roma will be back to home comforts after two games away from the Stadio Olimpico and will take on Sporting Braga this Thursday evening with a 2-0 lead from Europa League round of 32 first leg.
A brilliant victory in Portugal last Thursday evening has given AS Roma the perfect platform for the next 90 minutes to put in a professional performance and qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League.
AS Roma on Sunday night were held 0-0 in Campania against a very resolute Benevento side. Playing for the last 33 minutes of the game plus the allocated stoppage time with 10 men as Kamil Glik was sent off for two yellow cards. Roma could not capitalise with the extra body on the field and came away with a disappointing draw.
There were periods in the game where Roma would try and walk the ball into the back of the net and not test Lorenzo Montipó in the Benevento goal. Roma thought they had the perfect chance in the last minute of stoppage time when a penalty was given for a foul on Stephan El Shaarawy from Benevento’s left-back Daam Foulon. But the VAR intervened and rightly so as Borja Mayoral was in an offside position when the ball was recycled by Edin Dzeko.
It was a disappointing result and with 71% possession playing against 10 men for the majority of the second half, Roma really should have done more to get the result.
We move on to a busy week ahead with three crucial games in a packed hectic schedule. Braga, AC Milan and, Fiorentina in the next 8 days and positive results in all three could see Roma rest of the season shape up beautifully.
Sporting Braga coach Carlos Carvalhal was quite damming on the officials after Thursday’s defeat in Portugal. Carvalhal was quoted “this game deserved a better referee and his assistants”. Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs and his assistants Vasile Florin Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene were not in Carvalhal good books after some strange decisions in the second half.
Sporting Braga were denied a penalty and even in my eyes, I thought it was when Roger Ibanez barged down Andraz Sporar in the penalty box. Nothing was giving and Ibanez went off injured, Carlos Carvalhal’s mood would have got worse when Ricard Esgaio was sent off for two yellow cards after a nasty elbow on Gonzalo Villar.
On Sunday, Sporting Braga got back to winning ways in Liga Nos with a 4-2 home win over Tondela, which elevated them into 2nd place in the Liga Nos standings as Porto were playing Maritimo on Monday night. FC Porto won the game 2-1 with a late goal from Otavio. Braga raced into a 4-0 goal lead thanks to a brace from Lucas Piazon and goals from Ricardo Horta and Joao Novais. Tondela pulled two late goals in the final 10 minutes from Souleymane Anne and Joao Jaquite.
PREDICTED LINE UP | ROMA (3-4-2-1)
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Cristante, Spinazzola, Karsdorp, Veretout, Diawara, Bruno Peres, Pedro, Pellegrini, Dzeko
PREDICTED LINE UP | BRAGA (3-4-2-1)
Matheus, Borja, Tormena, Raul Silva, Ze Carlos, Al Musrati, Fransergio, Galeno, Horta, Gaitan, Sproar
With a 2-0 lead and a brilliant flawless victory in Portugal, Roma have to remain positive and professional in the second leg. Braga played with a high defensive line and time after time you saw Matheus the Braga goalkeeper 35 yards from his goal clearing the ball.
If Roma can use the quick counterattacks they are known for this season in transition and get in behind the high defensive line of Braga and then you will see Roma will qualify for the latter stages.