Last night Roma hosted Portuguese giants FC Porto at the Stadio Olimpico for the Champions League round of 16. As the best club competition in the world returned it to its grandest stage European a knockout football returns. Roma and Porto last played in the Champions League playoff rounds about 2 years ago. Porto beat Roma over the two legs 4-1 on aggregate to prevent Roma from competing in the competition. Roma finished second in a group’s featuring Real Madrid cska Moscow and Victoria Plzen. Meanwhile, Porto went on unbeaten in a group featuring Galatasaray Schalke and Lokomotiv Moscow. Roma drew Porto in the draw in what was the easiest opponent among Roma’s options. Roma welcomed Porto to the Stadio Olimpico in what was another historic champions league night in Rome. It was a rather uneventful first half as both teams failed to reiterate control in the match. Edin Dzeko hit the post in the closing moments of the first half but outside of that, there weren’t any real chances for either team. In the second half, the tide turned Roma took complete control of the match and took control of the tie. The match flipped on its head in what was a 9-minute sequence of goals. The second half was Nicolo Zaniolo moment as a talented 19-year old delivered on the biggest stage. Nicolo Zaniolo scores twice within 10 minutes of each other as Roma ran out to a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately, Porto, we’re able to crawl back despite a relatively flat evening they got the away goal they were looking for. Despite conceding late Roma take the advantage into the second leg. Roma now has an opportunity to make their second consecutive quarterfinals in the Champions League. It stinks that Roma gave up the away goal at the end but Roma put in a quality performance a performance that can be repeated in Portugal. If Roma stays focused and keep your eye on the finish line Roma will get through. Roma is a much stronger team than Porto and it was on full display on Tuesday night. Porto went into this game being unbeaten in 23 consecutive matches Roma ended that on a champions league night in Rome. This match was about the stardom of Nicolo Zaniolo the 19-year old gives Roma the advantage with a great chance of making the quarter-finals yet again.
Remember the Name: Nicolo Zaniolo
After last night’s performance, it is quite clear that Nicolo Zaniolo is the Champions League’s breakout star. In one of the best transfer deals of the season, Nicolo zaniolo cost Roma just 7 million in a deal that sent Radja Nainggolan to Inter Milan in exchange. Going into the season the perception was that he was a young player who would get a chance this season and be a big part of the future. Nicolo Zaniolo has put himself in the front foot of Italian football. He is one of Roma’s most important players and Roma are not going to let go of him at any price given his production and how well he has performed under the circumstances. I said this a thousand times but he really does remind me of Totti the incredible rise of this kid and the hype surrounding him we have not talked about a young player like this since Francesco Totti. He went from making his debut against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu to being one of the best young players in football. Nicolo Zaniolo is the face of Italian football their best talent with superstar potential he has been one of the best players in Italian football and last night he proved he is one of the best players in the Champions League. He was absolutely unbelievable last night at 19 years old he scored two goals in a round of 16 matchup against Porto. No moment is too big for this kid he just has everything he is Italian football’s crowning Jewel. He became the youngest Italian ever to score multiple goals in a Champions League match. Last night he was the biggest Factor he scored both goals within a 10 minute of each other. He showed and displayed his unbelievable ability. In terms of ball control intelligent passing and the ability to attack. His clinical finishing was perfect last night and he was without a doubt one of the best performers in the Champions League this week. Remember the name Nicolo Zaniolo this kid is going to create some real greatness for Roma. He is the future of this club and he is a player that I believe is good enough to wear Francesco Totti’s Iconic number 10 jersey. In the biggest games, he has delivered last night with high-pressure situations in a game where Roma could set the tone. Nicolo Zaniolo showed all the bit of a superstar that he is. He’s different than a lot of young players there is just something special about him. You could see after he scored the goals in front of his home fans in Rome how much it meant to him. His teammates and his coaches love this kid and his potential is Limitless. On Tuesday nights he was just quite simply the truth. This is only the beginning of what this kid can accomplish in the big moments he has delivered for Roma and he will only continue to do so at this competition progressives just an outstanding performance from Roma’s Sensational 19 year old he has the ability to become the world’s best that was on full display against Porto.
Porto’s important Away Goal.
FC Porto, were not at their best last night they struggled throughout the majority of the match. However, with all that being said, there is one thing, in particular, they were able to do they got the away-goal they were looking for. I still find it a little unlikely that Porto able to pull this off and given how poorly they played and the difference in quality was abruptly clear. However despite that because of the goal for they find themselves in a situation where they have a chance to turn this around. They are at home for the second leg. Essentially all they need to do is protect the house and score a goal. However, if Roma is able to score away from home it could be the end. Make no mistake this will be very difficult to accomplish giving me stars on the Roma side of things. It will be very difficult to completely shut them out. It would not a great performance from Porto but getting me away goal keeps this thing alive. Porto is going against the odds the away goal at least give them a chance that otherwise they would not have had. This goal is so important beating this Roma team is going to be really difficult but with the away goal Porto can take this as a positive result despite the fact they created next to nothing.
90 Minutes From Back to back Quarterfinals for Roma
Prior to last year, Roma had not been to the Champions League Quarter Finals since 2008. Last season Roma was the Dark Horse of the Champions League the true Underdog Story getting all the way to the semi-finals with a historic comeback against Barcelona in the process. Despite the fact that giving up an away goal that stings Roma still sign themselves in a good position to get back to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year they essentially have a foot in the door. All that is required now is for Roma to stay focus keep their eye on the finish line and finish the job. Roma must get a result in Portugal they need to get an away goal or at the very least shut them out. For a team like Roma who has struggled in the League this season and has dealt with some inconsistencies getting it another champions league quarter-final would do great for the country and the club’s reputation. With young Stars emerging was Nicolo Zaniolo Lorenzo Pellegrini Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert a quarterfinal appearance could justify Monchi project that he is building. The most important word to take into the second leg is the focus. This is a Roma team who has faced some inconsistency this season they cannot allow the second leg to be associated with the word inconsistent. Roma needs to go in there be aggressive and finish this off. No other inspiration should be needed there are players in this team who know what it’s like to go on Champions League runs the team must collectively stand together and finish this off. Roma cannot blow this they are so close to quarterfinals they just need. If any inspiration is needed Porto’s manager used to play for Lazio Roma’s arch-rival and before the match he did a lot of talking about this Roma team. Roma has all the tools and resources to perform and shut him up and I suspect Roma will do so. The second leg will be very difficult but in the end, Roma has everything necessary to kill it them off on their way to second consecutive quarterfinals.
Flat First Half
The first half was very uneventful barely anyone provided anything. In fact, it wasn’t even a shot until the 27th minute it was a very physical game and because of its physicality chances were not coming as freely as you thought they might have. Both teams have quality players to create chances but in the first half for whatever reason, it just did not happen. I suppose an argument could be made that there was a feeling out process and they were just trying to reiterate themselves in the game. By surprise, Porto dominated possession but had little to no chances with it. As the game went on it started to open up just a little bit as Roma started to get in position with a few chances. It took so long for it to get to that point though it was just a possession football for nearly a half an hour. The exciting second half made this game very interesting but in the first half, nothing was really there. Roma did seem to have a little more control of the game as the half came to a close but at that point in the game, it was up for grabs for anyone. It wasn’t as if Roma were amazing and Porto just didn’t show up at least in the first half there was very little that provided any intel and where the game was going. Defensively speaking I thought Roma trapped Porto for a lot of the first-half preventing them from really doing anything. They dominated the ball but they could not create that thing while Roma tried to get in position as much as possible. Lorenzo Pellegrini who was all over the place last night threaded the pass on an almost consistent basis but for whatever reason couldn’t get a really a good chance until late in the first half. It was slow the game didn’t really come to life in the opening half. It will be interesting whether the pace of the game will be more different early in the second leg.
Roma snaps Porto’s 23 match unbeaten run
The away goal was very disappointing to conceive but it truly was a top performance from Roma. More importantly, they ended a streak and a run that lasted 23 games. FC Porto had not lost a match since October they had gone at 23 games through the league domestic cups and Champions League without a loss. This was the biggest argument points in favor of Porto. Even though they only have a narrow lead in their league all season they have found the ways to pick up points in crucial situations and games. However, they had not faced a team with the talents and quality of Roma. Let’s face the facts Portugal it’s not a very strong League it’s very impressive what they’ve accomplished but they have not faced teams like this before. Even in the Champions League against Schalke Lokomotiv Moscow and a Galatasaray, it is not viewed as a particularly strong group, in fact, it was probably the weakest group in the competition. I’m not taking away from anything they have done could going 23 games without losing it’s truly an amazing achievement. On the other hand, I’m not at all surprised that Roma snapped it on Tuesday night. They are a better team with more firepower and they’re being challenged on a weekly basis in a much better League. Against a team like Roma who is playing top-notch opposition on a consistent basis they were always going to win this game at least that was my feeling. The margin I thought would be more unclear but Roma has advantages all over the place which is why I see them as strong favorites in the second leg in Portugal.