Coming off the disaster at Cagliari last weekend Roma travel to the snowy Czech Republic to take on Plzen in what would be the final group game of the Champions League. Roma’s qualification had already been confirmed last time out but it was important for this Roma side to prepare and play well as the team has certainly lacked confidence and momentum this season with Genoa and Juventus ahead how Roma played turned out to be more important than many people realized. During the first meeting between these two teams Roma annihilated Plzen at the Stadio Olimpico in what was a 5-0 win thanks to a hat-trick from Edin Dzeko. A player they certainly missed in this matchup Plzen’s European Ambitions were not completely destroyed as they had a legitimate chance at claiming third which would put them into the Europa League. It turned out to be a very even match at least it appeared that way in the early going. It was a goalless first half after Roma having had the majority of the chances. Meanwhile cska Moscow found themselves 2-0 up against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Roma had a legitimate chance to win the group if they were able to take care of business. Unfortunately they were unable to deliver on the occasion. Plzen ended up taking a shock lead through Jan Kovarik after horrendous defensive marking in the Box. Roma got Right back into the game as Cengiz Under scored on a timely finish from outside the box sliding it into the bottom corner to equalize making it 1-1. Roma did not have the character and the spirit necessary to win as Plzen’s Thomas Chory scored the winner just 10 minutes later. As they would hold on to win 2-1 the Czech Republic side did a tremendous job of protecting their home advantage and found a way through to finish third and to fulfill their Europa League ambitions. Another disaster for Roma who continues to struggle with consistency this season as they fall on their face in the Czech Republic.
Roma Failure to Respond
Even though Roma had already qualified for The Knockout rounds I thought this game held at some importance after their collapse last weekend. Roma had an opportunity to respond to all the critics that came down on them after surrendering a two-goal lead with 10 minutes to go in their 2-2 draw last Saturday. Roma completely underperformed and once again have displayed why they are having so many issues this season. Let’s not forget about the fact that this Roma team is 8th in the league which is drastically under the expectations of a club of the size of Roma. Having sold key players in each of the last three seasons has not helped the situation with the likes of Pjanic Kevin Strootman Alisson Becker,Mohamed Salah and Radja Nainggolan all having a part of the club in the last three seasons. Roma we’re not in a financial crisis in which they needed to get rid of them it is impossible to build a champion if you get rid of key components like Roma have done over the last 5-10 years. Roma really needed a emphatic response it wouldn’t have made a difference Roma really needed emphatic response. In fact they had an opportunity that they did not know that they were going to have. Roma had a legitimate chance of winning the group. Real Madrid got crushed by cska Moscow 3-0 last night had Roma got a result against Plzen they would have won the group for the second consecutive season. This team simply did not deliver when they needed to not because it was going to affect the status in the Champions League but because Roma have two incredibly difficult games upcoming against Genoa and Juventus two teams they are no joke when they are on form. A great performance in last night’s games would have given them confidence and momentum that quite clearly they do not have at the moment. It is so frustrating not because it would completely change the season around we’re going into these important games they would have had momentum and confidence. The injuries are also an issue you can’t not mention that but there’s no excuse for what occurred on Wednesday night even a short-handed Roma should have been able to deal with Plzen team that they beat 5-0 in their previous matchup it is hard playing in the Czech Republic in a cold environment but they could have done much better they had an opportunity to respond to their discretion but were unable to deliver.
Viktoria Plzen to the Europa League
Plzen‘s important win against Roma at home allows their European journey to continue. We knew going into this match that Real Madrid and Roma we’re going to The Knockout rounds but they were fighting with cska Moscow the third spot. It was important because the third-place team goes into the Europa League round of 32. For big-name teams the Europa League is known it to be negative. However since the beginning of European football they have only participated on nine occasions. For Viktoria Plzen Europa League is still continuous European football and its something that they were shooting for going into the match. It may not be a big deal for some of the bigger teams but for these teams coming from smaller countries it is prestigious regardless of what competition they are here to compete. I don’t know how much of a chance that they stand in the Europa League knockout rounds at all depends on the draw but this is what they play for these players aren’t getting fired up over the Czech Republic League these European Knights are so important to a small team like Plzen. If they get a favorable draw maybe there’s a possibility they could go on a run the deeper they get into the competition the better it is for the country for the league and the club they delivered when they felt they needed to had they not won the game their European campaign would have ended they battled through adversity to continue their European football season.
Roma Unlikely to Make Quarterfinals
Roma’s 6 Potential Champions League Round of 16 Opponents:
Man City,Bayern , Porto, Dortmund, Barca,PSG
After the conclusion of the Champions League group stage it is my estimation that it will be highly unlikely that Roma will advance to the quarter-finals. Last season they went on a historic Champions League run all the way to the the semi-finals in the process. At the moment it seems very unlikely that they will be able to repeat that success. If Roma were able to get to the quarter-finals again it would be a huge success for the club’s reputation in Europe especially after losing several key players. With that being said I find it very unlikely that they will get past the round of 16 they would have to get a favorable draw for me to believe that they have it in them for another deep Champions League run. Roma’s six potential Champions League opponents are Manchester City Bayern Munich FC Porto Borussia Dortmund Barcelona and PSG. Unless they end up with Porto it seems very likely they could be looking at a round of 16 elimination. I believe if they’re at their best they would have a chance to beat Dortmund and a maybe Bayern Munich on a bad day. As far as the rest go they wouldn’t stand a chance against the likes of Manchester City Barcelona and could gets humiliated by PSG. With all that being said the round of 16 matchups is a few months away. That is important because of right now they are without their best three players Edin Dzeko Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini. It seems very unlikely that we’re going to see a huge turn around but if Roma get them back from injury and they start playing well then maybe just maybe don’t have a chance but based on what we have seen this season it seems to be very unlikely that Roma will make it to the quarterfinals. We should all hope for Porto because that might be the only route to the last 8.
Roma Needs Edin Dzeko back as Soon as Possible
After last night’s performance one thing is very clear they miss Edin Dzeko dearly. So far this season in the champions league Edin Dzeko has five goals from four games. He is without a doubt one of the most consistent performers in the Champions League and has a ridiculous scoring record over the last 10 games. In the two games Dzeko has not played due to injury Roma have conceded four goals while only scoring one. The Patrik Schick experiment has failed miserably. Since Edin Dzeko has been out with his injuries Patrik Schick has come in as his replacement and has yet to deliver practically anything. He does have one goal since coming in and it simply has not been good enough. Edin Dzeko is Roma’s Superstar without him the team really doesn’t have one. Roma have a lot of young talent and you could argue Cengiz Under could be considered a superstar but Edin Dzeko is the franchise player. Edin Dzeko statistically is one of the 10 best strikers that have ever played for Roma he is an absolute difference-maker especially in big games. He is an imposing a physical presence and is a capable goal scorer with or without service he can find the back of the net with ease. He was one of Roma’s most important players last season he scored in the group stage the round of 16 the quarterfinals and the semi-finals last season. In the Champions League he just quite simply is the real deal Roma don’t need him back just for the Champions League they need him back in the league he is considered by many as one of the best strikers in Italian football while this season he has a relatively slow start he is a player that is capable of heating up at any time. Roma I need him back so badly they depend on his services so much and they are just not the same team without him. According to medical personnel Edin Dzeko could be back within a week along with Stephan El Shaarawy the sooner he returns the better because Roma are struggling so much without him. Roma don’t have that impact player at the moment Roma need him back as soon as possible the season can be salvaged but without Dzeko Roma are not going anywhere. He has been historically great for Roma and it will only continue when he returns. His return could completely change their fortunes but unfortunately when he returns it is out of their control.
Roma’s Decision to Rest Robin Olsen
Roma has had all kinds of problems this season and I don’t think Eusebio Di Francesco it’s to blame. I will continue to defend him I’m on record saying that if Roma could get Antonio Conte I would be okay with him being sacked but unless Roma gets Conte Roma should not even consider it. I will continue to defend him but in this instance I do disagree with something he did. Roma were already qualified for the round of 16 so because of that he rested some players which is a completely rational approach to the situation so I don’t really fault him for making the decision but I disagree with his decision to do so. Roma is a team without confidence without momentum who are incredibly inconsistent. In order for them to get some consistency they need to be playing their strongest team in every competition regardless if they have qualify for not while Roma do have some injuries that they have to deal with I do not think this was the right move. From his perspective I understand because Roma are missing several key players and you do not want to add anything to that list. At the same time this match is important not because they needed to win but they need a confident display to go off some momentum. Where Genoa and Juventus upcoming over the next two weeks if it’s so important that Roma start gaining momentum and confidence. DiFrancesco gave rest to Robin Olson Alessandro Florenzi among others. However one decision in particular bothered me. There was no reason whatsoever for Robin Olsen not to start this game. He has been one of Roma’s more consistent players this season having to fill the shoes of Alisson Becker has been incredibly difficult and he has not been able to do that In fairness but he has shown some real quality. Starting Mirante ahead of him made no sense Robin Olson I believe could have saved at least one of the goals. He commands more poison goal and is several years younger. In both games he has not played Roma have lost to inferior opposition. Robin Olson is a top-notch keeper and Roma need to keep some sort of momentum in confidence within the team and he would have provided that. Benching him for this game made no sense. I’ll take this one step further I think Rome was 21 year old kid should be the backup goalkeeper now on two occasions Mirante has shown that he’s unable to perform when the club and team is asking him to. Had a robin Olsen been in that game we could be looking at a different result.