Score A.S Roma 4 Villarreal
– El Madrigal, Castellon
Following Roma’s 2-0 victory over Serie A bottom feeders Crotone Roma would take a brief break for their Serie A Campaign putting a pause on their title chase as the road to Stockholm continues for the knockout stage of the Europa League, In Roma’s Round of 32 first leg match up against Spanish side Villarreal. After finishing at the top of their respective group they faced Villarreal a group runner up in Spain it would be an absolutely massive game if they can show their worth on the road they could prove to be an unstoppable force in this tournament. The Pressure of playing on the road didn’t affect Roma’s play as they kept they go form as Emerson would give Roma the lead a little over half way through the first half with an absolute stunning goal as Roma would go into the half with an important away goal in the second half it would become a trashing Dzeko would put on a show in a brilliant Hatrick scoring 3 goals in 21 minutes as they would give Villarreal a crushing defeat and the inevitable advancement to the next round as Roma go home with a 4 away goals backing the Spanish side into a corner a dream start for Roma.
Not a ton of news but some pretty big news did surface this week prior to the match. Some potential summer transfer rumors AS Roma have reportedly entered the race to sign 18-year-old S.L Benfica defender Victor Lindelof with Manolas headed off to Milan he would be a great signing for the Giallorossi as Victor is one of the young promising talents in Europe. One of Roma’s best players this season Fazio also was in the news for the possibility of Italian citizenship having only played 3 games for the Argentina national team he can become eligible to play for Italy he will likely join Roma full time next season id like him to play for Italy I’m sure Gian Piero Ventura would love to have him. That brings us to the bad new Roma Captain Alexandro Florenzi reinjured his ACL as he will be out an additional 5 months will likely return to the team this June it will keep him out the rest of the season a big blow for Roma the Italian defender was looking at a march return prior to reinjuring the same knee. Leandro Paredes to Juventus rumors have picked up again I honestly hope it doesn’t happen they have been enough betrayals. Roma would keep most of their usual in the team for this massive European game. Luciano Spalletti would again go with 3-4-2-1 formation it’s likely to will keep this formation until the end of the season it has done well for the Romans this season. In goal would be the Europa league and Coppa Itaila keeper Allison Becker who would make his 9th start since joining in the summer. They would be no change for the defensive Trio Antonio Rudiger would take on his expected left-back Role on the opposite side of Rudiger would be Kosta Manolas taking the Right-back spot and deploying the middle of the defense would be Fazio. The defensive midfield would also look nearly identical look to it playing as the left wing would be Emerson and playing on the opposite side as the right wing would be Bruno Peres. The Brazilian pair would play wide to open up the attack. Danielle De Rossi and Kevin Strootman would play in the center of the defensive midfield. Than the duo of the attacking midfield would be Raja Nainggolan on the right side and on the left would be Stephen El Shaarawy than up top as the lone striker would be the big man 6’4 Bosnian Monster Edin Dzeko, he is absolutely on fire at the moment 25 goals this season also has scored in four games on the run. With Salah ready when called upon off the bench I think this is a strong side but Salah off the bench could make a huge different late in this game.
Europa League Group F winners A.S Roma would travel to Spain as Villarreal would welcome the Giallorossi to El Madrigal to face off against Group L Runners up Villarreal in an absolutely massive match as they prepared for the knockout stage of the Europa League any away goals Roma could get in this game would be crucial for their chances. Both teams had the quality to go through, A.S Roma are 2nd in the Italian top flight earing 53 points so far this season with a record of 17-2-5 its been one of their best campaigns in many years having one of the best players in the world at the moment in Edin Dzeko who has had his goals all over Roma this season being the top scorer in serie A with 18 goals also has 5 goals in Europe and two goals in the Coppa Itaila. This Roma team will be in pole position to win the title next year and the treble for them still isn’t out of the question. It’s not just Dzeko the entire team has showed nothing short of Brilliance this season they have beaten strong teams such as Inter, Napoli, Milan and Fiorentina this season. In my opinion Dzeko is the best striker in the world this season has played a big part in Roma’s success this season. Not to be out done, Villarreal is no slouch this season they currently stand in 6th in La Liga with 36pts this season with a 9-9-4 record this season they have done well in some big games earning a point against Barcelona highlighting that. Roma are the better team but it is a massive game for both teams as it will be a great chance for Roma to try to lift they first trophy since 2008. On the other hand Villarreal hoping not to follow suit of their fellow Spanish Giants as Barcelona got humiliated by PSG 4-0 in the Champions League. After weeks of speculation and preparation for a match as massive as this the battle between Italy and Spain began. It was a very evenly match from the start of the game Roma and Villarreal were both pushing but Roma looked little stronger Strootman was in perfect position to score just three minutes in but his attempt was blocked. Strootman played tremendously well had 2 shots blocked early in the game. Strootman nearly gave Roma their first real chance of the game when he sent in a ball for Dzeko but it went out. In the 20th minute Roma would get the game’s first chance when Edin Dzeko hit a shot from outside of the box but it missed left. Samu Castillejo would respond for Villarreal as they got their first chance few minutes later but much like Dzeko he missed from outside the box, however the Spanish side did great job with their ball moment a displaying very Spanish like creative skill. Roma did defend it well though as they were able to deal with it largely because Roma plays a very similar style. In the first half the game looked like it was going back and forth. Both teams were doing a great job creating chances for their teams. Even on the stat sheet it was pretty even Villarreal with the slightly better stats but that didn’t really matter both team were putting their best foot forward. Roma again were nearly in when Emerson sent a cross from the wing into Dzeko who put his head to it but just nearly missed. Roma started to look in control of the game as Emerson nearly hit a shot from outside the box but was a little high. After a continuous battle the deadlock would get broken in the 32nd minute Roma would get a goal from the most unlikely of sources. Emerson would score an absolute belter of a goal one of the best Roma goals this season certainly their best in Europe so far.It was a play that developed beautifully Allison Rolled the ball to Rudiger who passed it to Emerson, Emerson would one touch it back to Rudiger after receiving the ball back the German International took a few dribbles than hit a quick fire pass to El Shaarawy the Italian would send a through ball to the wing where Emerson was, the Brazilian would take the ball off his defender than hit a stunning strike around traffic banging it in the top right corner to score a world class goal honestly I didn’t know he could do that. The goal would give Roma the 1-0 lead giving Roma a very important away goal it would be Emerson’s 1st goal for Roma this season and only his 2nd goal for the club. The set up was sensational but the strike was world class Roma beat the Spanish with their own game in a very Spanish like passing sequence. The face of disgust was all over the face of the defenders as they couldn’t believe what they saw as they gave up a crucial goal. Emerson had another attempt right before the half but his attempt was saved. The first 45 minutes ended 1-0 with the Italians ahead.
After Luciano Spalletti and Fran Escribá had time to reassess their teams action would resume as the second half kicked off. In the first half it was quite even despite Roma having more shots and the lead the La Liga club still showed some promise. Emerson for me as the big star of the first half he did it on both sides of the ball obviously scoring that amazing goal but also helped out with his defensive skill. If Roma tighten up there defense they shouldn’t concede they were exposed quite a bit on the right-side. In the 53rd minute Allison Becker showed his worth for Roma, Villarreal put together a fantastic attack they took a cross from the wing into the box but Allison’s quick reflexes denied them of a goal. Villarreal had two more counter attacks but they completely wasted them as Allison had no issues dealing. Villarreal looked to be getting back in the game that was until Luciano Spalletti went to his bench and brought it Mohamed Salah fair play to Spalletti on this one made a chance that would blow up the game. Salah would come in for El Shaarawy who despite playing part in the first goal hadn’t been having the best game. It would only take Salah two minutes to put his footprint on the game I knew going in he would be the key off the bench. In the 64th minute Roma gave Villarreal another crushing blow Emerson again from the wing set up a fantastic team goal Emerson sent a through ball to Salah would was approaching the danger area the Egyptian than took a few dribbles than when he got to into the box he gave a near perfect pass into Dzeko, the Bosnian made one move practically causing the defender to completely fall out of place getting disorganized ultimately creating a 1 on 1 with the keeper for Dzeko and the Bosnian put it away with ease hitting it down the middle right over the keeper to give Roma a 2-0 lead and more importantly a second away goal. Roma now will take 2 away goals back home with them it would be Dzeko’s 6th goal in the Europa league and his 26th goal total this season he really has been world class this season. It began to look like a mountain to climb for Villarreal in the 71st minute Spalletti would make another change he would bring on Juan Jesus for Rudiger who had a very good game he got a standing ovation from the away support. Villarreal would get a chance to console something from the game in the 75th minute on a set piece off a Free kick Villarreal’s Sansone free kick ripped through the bottom of the wall but didn’t have enough power on it as Allison grabbed it easily. Allison has done very well in this game I think he could be Roma’s #1 if Szcz?sny doesn’t resign. Than in the 79th minute it would go from bad to worse for Villarreal. Dzeko would make it a double scoring his second of the game. The sub Juan Jesus hit a cross from far back into the big Bosnian Dzeko would collect the ball beating the defender to the ball and Dzeko would do what Dzeko does he hit the ball underneath the keeper it would take a deflection the ball would hit the inside of the bar and go in to give Roma the 3-0 lead. Roma now have a three goal lead going into the 2nd leg grabbing yet another away goal for the Romans the away fans were going crazy it would be Dzeko’s second of the game his 7th in Europe and his 27th total. Yet another great display of team work by Roma. Than in the 86th minute Villarreal’s bad dream became a nightmare. Bruno Peres would send a pass through the middle to Dzeko who would kick it to the outside with his foot, Dzeko would continue to run forward Raja Nainggolan would catch Dzeko’s pass near the box and the Belgium International put it right where Dzeko likes it Dzeko would take one touch and placed in the bottom right corner to give him the Hatrick and an astounding 4-0 lead. Roma would take 4 away goals back with them to the Fortress. It would be Dzeko’s 8th goal of the Europa league making him the top scorer in the competition scoring 8 goals in 6 games it would also be his 28th goal of the season his most successful campaign since his Wolfsburg days. Only Messi and Cavani have more goals than Dzeko this season the three of them are the favorites to be sitting side by side in Zurich when the Ballon D’or comes around at the moment there is no better striker in Europe. The game would end as a 4-0 demolition as Italy beat out Spain in this European battle.
After this game Roma take a 4-0 lead on aggregate taking 4 away goals from Villarreal they have pretty much killed the tie and will be more than likely heading to the round of 16 after this performance they are considered by many as favorites to lift the trophy in Sweden. After this game they return home to face Torino a team in which they have lost to already this season but at home Roma are unstoppable. It’s looking more and more like Roma won’t win the title but Roma are still in pool position to win two trophies this season. After the Torino match they will host Villarreal for the second leg in Rome in a useless game Roma are unbeaten in the last 15 games at home they should finish them off quite easily. It has been clear that Salah’s Return to the team has done great things also Emerson’s impact has been class the last few games. After that game they Travel TO Milan to face Inter Milan despite an earlier win against them it will be a massive game for Roma. Man United are probably hoping for a Roma United Final to them I say be careful what you wish for.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Edin Dzeko
NEXT GAME IN SERIE A: vs Torino Sunday February 19th
NEXT GAME IN EUROPA: vs Villarreal Round of 32 (Roma Lead 4-0 AGG) Thursday February 23rd
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 7
Passing Accuracy: 82%
On Target: 7
Passing Accuracy: 86%