Score: A.S Roma 1 Viktoria Plzen 2FT
Following a heartbreak in Cagliari over the weekend Roma return to Champions League football for the final group game. As they traveled on the road to the cold Czech Republic to take on Viktoria Plzen. In the first meeting Roma smashed them up 5-0 behind an Edin dzeko hat trick. It would be completely different circumstances this time around. Roma had already secured qualification for the Champions League knockout stage but Plzen still had a lot to play for. Equal on points with Cska Moscow the Czech Republic Giants were aiming for a third-place finish so they could continue their European journey in the Europa League. It turned out to be an opportunity wasted for Roma with cska Moscow beating Real Madrid Roma had an chance to win the group but failed to deliver. After a scoreless first half Plzen found the back of the net to give the Czech Republic side a 1-0 lead. Despite the fact that it is not an easy place to play it was inexcusable to concede. Roma eventually got back into it as Cengiz Under equalized with a stunning strike. However it only was temporarily as Plzen retook the lead just minutes later to go on to conquer Roma at home in a 2-1 victory for the Czech Republic champions. Roma failed to respond after a terrible showing on the weekend in a match in which they lack character. Roma may have already qualified but it was not the performance they needed. Roma were lacking momentum and confidence this match a result would have restored it but again it adds more turmoil to the Italians.
Several adjustments from Eusebio Di Francesco side. With Roma having already qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds DiFrancesco gave rest to some of the key players with injury issues already a major problem he didn’t want to risk anything. Roma would still be without Lorenzo Pellegrini Edin Dzeko Stephan El Shaarawy and others to injury. Operating out of the 4-2-3-1 formation Roma started Antonio Mitante in goal as he is saving Robin Olsen for the big match against Genoa this weekend. Roma’s backline looks different than it has in recent weeks with two changes being made. At left back would be Serbian International Alex Kolarov beside him would be the centre-back partnership of Ivan Marcano and Kostas Manolas with Davie Santon occupying the right back position. The defensive Midfield would stay identical with the pairing of inform Bryan Cristante and the experienced Steven Nzonzi. Roma’s attacking Midfield we would see the return of Javier Pastore to the lineup in central Midfield. On the left Wing would be the electrifying Justin Kluivert who has really come on over the last few months. Then on the opposite side controlling the right-wing’s would be Roma’s Turkish star Cengiz Under. Then up front as the main Striker playing in his home country would be Patrik Schick who has continued to fill in for the injured Edin Dzeko.
After preparations and predictions the match was about ready to get underway in a cold snowy night in the Czech Republic. A weather condition that very much Suited Plzen who already had the home advantage. The heavily-favored the Romans took the field against the Europa League hopefuls Viktoria Plzen was hoping for a results so they wouldn’t have to crash out of Europe. Real Madrid was playing cska Moscow at the Santiago Bernabeu which proved great importance to the Czech Republic side ambitions to continue their European Journey. The match kicked off as expected Roma dominated the possession but the match itself was very balanced. Viktoria Plzen wasn’t afraid to attack because their European fortunes depended on it. Hubnik gave Victoria an early chance coming off a free-kick failing to hit the target. It was possession football and the game and took a while to develop very few chances came in the first half. A little while later Roma had their first chance of the match through a Cengiz Under strike after being set up by Bryan Cristante under smash the ball from distance but the Turkish star had too much power. A few minutes later Roma continue to grab some momentum as Javier Pastore came close before seeing his shot saved by the keeper. A minute later Alex Kolarov shot from distance misfired. Roma continue to reassert themselves into the match as Justin Kluivert got into great space to give Roma the opener. The young teenager fired from the six-yard box just missing what would have been the opening goal. Viktoria Plzen responded with Jan Kovarik attempt on goal but didn’t have the touch necessary. It continued to be very possession-based football not too many chances would come for the remainder of the half as it remained goalless however there was a breakthrough at the Santiago Bernabeu. As a Cska Moscow scored two goals to end the half as they found themselves 2-0 up on Real Madrid. That would signal the end of the first half as it stands Viktoria Plzen would miss out on the Europa League if the results remained unchanged for the remainder of the game The Whistle blew after the first half in a 0-0 game in the snowy Czech Republic.
Bryan Cristante Battles with the Plzen Defensive in a goalless first half.
It was quite an uneventful first half for both teams on cold miserable night in the Czech Republic. The opportunity Roma potentially had on their hands in the second half could not have been more clear. With Real Madrid down by two goals with cska Moscow Roma with a win could have won the group. While Victoria now needed to win to get into the Europa League. The game at seem to open up a little bit more in the second half as Roma started to attack in a more aggressive manner. Just minutes into the second half Steven Nzonzi got his head through an under cross with a chance to give Roma the lead but missed. Javier Pastore came close just a little bit later but it remained even. A pair of Viktoria Plzen chances would follow but we still had not found an opening goal yet. Roma would go to their bench as if they brought in Nicolo Zaniolo for Javier Pastore. To try to give Roma a new dimension. Shortly after the change was made the unthinkable happened. In the 62nd minute we got a breakthrough but not from the team we expected. Jan Kovarik scored a tap in as a cross was it whipped from just inside the box to give Victoria a surprising 1-0 lead. Woeful man-marking as he was almost completely open getting the keeper no chance. However Roma got back into the game just six minutes later. In the 68th minute Roma’s Turkish star Cengiz Under took a pass from Davie Santon from just outside the box and slotted it in to the bottom corner leaving it out of the reach of the keeper. Tremendous run and finish from Roma’s Turkish Speedster to equalize making it 1-1. it would be the Under’s third goal in the Champions League this season.
Cengiz Under Brought Roma back with a timely finish
However despite the equalizer Plzen hit right back again. In the 72nd minute Thomas Chory put his head through a cross that landed in the back of the net as the Czech Republic Champions Re-took the lead on home soil against the Italian Giants making it to 2-1. Another avoidable goal as it really showed a lack of grit and determination from Roma’s point of view. Instead of reiterating control of the match for Roma it was actually Plzen who kept on the Relentless pressure as they had their eyes on the Europa League. Luca Pellegrini came in for Steven Nzonzi to try to prove something Rona what is ended up backfiring as he almost immediately gets a yellow card. Roma continued to try to push behind under but it seemed like Roma psychologically were not prepared for the task. Bryan Cristante with 7 minutes to go came close to an equalizer but his shot narrowly missed. It went from bad to worse for Roma as Luca Pellegrini was given a second yellow cards hard to fault the player because he had a tough task but the young Roman has to do better than that. With very few minutes left in the match Roma tried to find a way back but we’re on able to do so as they could not handle the weather and the intensity of the Czech Republic as they fall on their face at the hands of Viktoria Plzen as the Czech Republic side get into the Europa League following cska Moscow 3-0 win against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Meanwhile Roma did not get the response that they needed as it was clear many times throughout this match Edin Dzeko is missed as Roma’s misery only continue even though Roma have qualified for the round of 16 tonight there is nothing to be proud about.
Captain Manolas points out Roma’s lack of Sprit
Even though Roma had qualification wrapped up prior to the match Roman needed a result here. Not because they were in danger of not qualifying but because Roma have been incredibly inconsistent and needed a performance that could give them momentum and confidence through the rest of the season. Failing to deliver here showed a lack and character and resilience something that we saw against Inter Milan some how some way has disappeared. This is a the same team Roma beat 5-0 earlier in the campaign. You can make the argument that Roma have some really key injuries and that would be an accurate statement but it’s not a valid excuse. Even a weakened Roma team is more than good enough to have beaten Viktoria Plzen. I’m not saying they are not a good team but in comparison it’s not even close. Roma’s next two matches are against Genoa and Juventus it is possible that Roma can lose both of those games. This wasn’t about anything beside getting momentum. This has been one of the worst seasons Roma has had in many years staring and usually in situations like this there’s someone to blame what change can reiterates everything. This comes down to the simple fact that Roma have gotten rid of important players in three consecutive seasons. How can you build something like that when you’re taking away key pieces every season. Both of the goals Plzen scored could have been easily avoided once Roma equalized through Cengiz Under they should have gone aggressive and fought to the end. There just was no spirit in this team this wasn’t the response Roma needed in fact it was quite the opposite. You look at this team there is more than enough quality to put in consistent good performances but for whatever reason we just have not seen it. When you build a team from scratch and put a lot of new pieces together it’s not going to work out of the gate I think that is the biggest problem. The performance was underwhelming and there has to be some accountability taken especially defensively. In the general sense it goes beyond what we see on the pitch it comes down to decisions that have been made over the last three seasons. Roma have a lot of young Talent that are going to be so good in the years to come but too much overhaul has occurred even though the match didn’t mean much its inexcusable for them to lose on the final match day I don’t know if it was them not taking it seriously enough but something occurred there’s no other explanation. Roma should have been able to respond especially when qualification was already confirmed Victoria weren’t great but they were able to take advantage of mistakes Roma had to win this game not for anyone but themselves. They were not very many bright spots and they’re 2-1 loss in the Czech Republic on a cold night Cengiz Under put on an excellent display scoring a unbelievable goal and continued to try to pull Roma back into the game Bryan Cristante also showed his quietly but quite honestly at this point his excellent performance and Under’s goal was the only positive of the entire match. Mistakes were made throughout there’s no reason Roma should have rested players players need to be at full strength at all times there is no point Roma do have injuries and I understand that but you still have to put out your strongest team you possibly can and they just didn’t do that.
Man of The Match: Cengiz Under (3)
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 4
Pass Accuracy: 97%
On Target: 4
Pass Accuracy: 74%
Champions League Group G
1.Real Madrid 4-0-2 12Pts (Through to the Knockout Stage)
2.A.S Roma 3-0-3 9pts (Through to Knockout Stage)
3. Viktoria Plzen 2-1-3 7pt (Advances to the Europa league Round of 32)
4. Cska Moscow 2-1-3 7pt (Eliminated)