Score:Roma 1 Viktoria Plzen 1
Doosan Aréna, Czech Republic
After failing to qualify for the Champions League this year being beat by Porto last mouth Roma’s Road to Sweden would kick off on this cold evening in the Czech Republic in Match day 1 of the Europa league Group Stage against Group E Opponents Viktoria Plzen. The Giallorossi European struggles continued leaving the Czech Republic with just a Point. The Serie A giants had the most of opportunity’s at Doosan Arena tonight, but a mixture of poor defending and poor finishing saw their efforts end in disappointment. After Perotti put Roma in front just 4 minutes in from the spot Viktoria Plzen would fire right back scoring a goal of their own just 7 minutes later. They would hold off the Roman attack to as it would end as 1-1 draw. A less than great start for the Italian giant’s but it is only the beginning there a long way to go
Luciano Spaletti would go with a very different team than he has been using for the game. New Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker would get his second start of the season for the Romans the team has been mostly using Wojciech Szczesny thus far this season so it was great to see him get the start. It would mostly be unchanged at the back in the midfield we would see regulars Diago Perotti and Raja Nainggolan as well as New boy 19-year-old Brazilian wunderkind Gerson would make his much anticipated Roma Debut after being left out of the squad so far this season. Than up front to make up Roma’s 4-3-3 formation would be the three headed monster made up of regular Stephen El Shaarawy youngster Leandro Parades and making his 2nd appearances and 1st start of the season Juan Iturbe. With goal scorers Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko as well as Alexandro Florenzi being left on the bench.
Roma arrived in the Czech Republic earlier this week after their dramatic last minute win against Sampdoria on Sunday. They would go into the group as the heavy favorites to win the group. Joining Roma in group E would be Austria Wien (AUS), Astra (ROM) & Viktoria Plzen (CZH) which is a very easy group of paper. Not only would they be favorite to win the group they would go in to the Europa league as one of the heavy favorites to win the entire thing. The winning of the Europa league would get automatic entrance to the group stage of the champions league next season so there is a lot at stake. Roma was heavily expected to win the game. It was a cold and rainy night in away territory. Coming off their most recent win in Serie Roma looked like the quality hasn’t diminished since the weekend. Roma wasted no time getting out in front in the 4th minute El Shaarawy was brought down inside the box and was given the Penalty. Diego Perotti Roma’s designated penalty specialist would step up and put the ball past the keeper driving it in the bottom left corner. To give the Romans the 1-0 scoring his 1st goal in Europe since 2014 and netting his 4th goal of the season. Things looked up for the Italians it appeared that it could be a long night for the Czech side Roma looked fully in control of the game even before that. It was just four minutes but none the less Roma looked great up to that point. But just like many I underestimated this Czech side they were a team that looked like they had a lot to prove and in the 11th minute they took their chance M. Bakoš took a cross from the outside of the box and drove it past Allison barely beating the Brazilian for the goal as they took the game back and equalized making it 1-1. Despite several more chances in the 1st half Roma were unable to convert they were seemingly in control but couldn’t put their chances away. It was 1-1 after the 1st 45 minutes a disappointing 1st half for a team that’s much better than their counterpart. The 2nd half got underway but there was no change Roma appeared to be struggling it was very frustrating to watch. They were getting great chances and just wasting them. Florenzi, Totti and Dzeko all came on in the 2nd half to try to help but it was the same result. The defense looked miserable was really poor in this game which shows how badly we need Rudiger back there were a few positives but it overall it was a disappointing showing from Roma they were in control for nearly the entire game. It ended as a 1-1 draw I’m happy for the point but it was disappointing we couldn’t get the win. I think besides the goal Allison did very well was very much in command in goal made some greats saves and I think it gives Roma another option in goal. There was a lot of excitement in Gerson’s arrival but his debut never materialized he did some good things on the pitch but really struggled at times which is completely understandable.
Not the result we wanted but it’s not over it’s only the beginning Roma still in my eyes will win this group we just need to fix the mistakes and learn from what we didn’t do well and take it in to our next match we should be fine. Our next match we take on the champions of my home country as We Welcome Romanian Champions Astra to the Stadio Olimpico in Match day 2 as the Road to Sweden Continues.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen EL SHaarawy
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 3
Pass Accuracy: 82%