Roma travel to Amsterdam to take on Ajax in a mouth-watering Europa League Quarter Final tie. Roma will be looking to bounce back after another disappointing display in Serie A on Saturday afternoon.
AS Roma were pegged back twice by Sassuolo on Easter Saturday at the Mapei and dropped more points in vain and the reality has hit that the top 4 and Champions League football is now a pipe dream. Roma have slipped down to 7th in the Serie A standings after a run of 1 point from the last 3 games.
Defeats to Parma, Napoli, and a draw at the weekend at Sassuolo have seen Roma drop down from 4th to 7th in just a few weeks. There will be more twists and turns and the season goes on, but this tide of poor form has hit AS Roma at a bad time.
Paulo Fonseca and AS Roma have now got to throw all the eggs into the Europa League basket, it is a perfect opportunity to win a trophy which the club has not done since 2008. Plus, it is a gateway to the top table of Champions League football and AS Roma need to be dining at the top table once again. It has been far too long.
Chris Smalling has been ruled out for the game in Holland, he has struggled with injury after his return on a permanent basis in October 2020. Jordan Veretout returned to action for Roma in a cameo appearance on Saturday away at Sassuolo and is in contention from the start.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be rushed back after picking up a muscle injury in the previous round. Local reports have stated that he has a 10% chance of featuring on Thursday. Stephan El Shaarawy picked up a hamstring strain and will miss 15 days of action. A big blow for Roma and it looks like he will miss both games in the Europa League.
PREDICTED XI | ROMA (3-4-2-1)
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez, Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Spinazzola, Pedro, Pellegrini, Dzeko.
Ajax are flying high in the Dutch Eredivisie with 69 points from 27 games and are a whopping 11 points clear of second-place PSV and AZ Alkmaar who is in third place. Since losing to Atalanta in the last group game of the UEFA Champions League group state, Ajax and Erik ten Hag have gone a wonderful run of 24 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Ajax have defeated Lille and BSC Young Boys in the last 32 and last 16 of the Europa League and are looking to go all the way like they did in the 2016/17 season but was defeated by Manchester United and Jose Mourinho.
Ajax have been flawless in the last 6 games in all competitions, 4 wins in the Eredivisie over FC Groningen (3-1), PEC Zwolle (2-0), ADO Den Haag (5-0) and this weekend a 2-1 away win at Heerenveen. BSC Young Boys were defeated in the previous round 3-0 in Amsterdam and 2-0 in Bern.
Ajax will be missing some very key players for this upcoming match on Thursday, Noussair Mazraoui has an eye injury and has missed the last 11 matches. Daley Blind picked up a serious ankle ligament injury in the international break for Holland.
Former AS Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has picked up a knee injury. Andre Onana is two months into a 12-month ban doping ban. Sebastian Haller was signed from West Ham United in the winter transfer window but forgot to register him for the latter part of the season in the Europa League. Do not worry Ajax, AS Roma knows all too well about administrative errors this season.
Key player to watch out for in this Ajax side
Dusan Tadic is having a wonderful season in all competitions, 22 goals and 19 assists in 41 club appearances this season. 3 goals and 2 assists in the 4 Europa league games this season. In Tadic’s last 6 league games for Ajax, he has 4 goals and 5 assists, which included a hat-trick of assists in Ajax’s 4-2 win over Sparta Rotterdam. A crucial and pivotal player for Ajax since his arrival from Southampton in the summer of 2018, his stats for Ajax are outstanding 76 goals and 63 assists in 139 games. Unbelievable!
PREDICTED XI | AJAX (4-3-3)
Scherpen, Kimber, Alvarez, Martinez, Tagliafico, Gravenberch, Kudus, Klaassen, Antony, Tadic, Neres
Ajax will be looking to maintain their very impressive unbeaten run of 24 games in all competitions, they have been flawless in recent weeks. They will be coming against a Roma team licking their wounds and feeling a little bit sorry for themselves.
League form in recent weeks has not gone Roma way, but in Europe, they have dispatched 2 of Paulo Fonseca’s former sides and will be looking to get a positive result in Amsterdam to take back to Rome for the return leg next week.