Europa League

Europa League – Roma vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Preview & Predicted Lineups

RomaPress Staff
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It’ll be another high stakes showdown in the Italian capital on Thursday evening as Roma and Bayer Leverkusen clash in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final.

The matchup revisits last season’s semi-final, which Roma won 1-0 on aggregate, and also presents a significant challenge for both clubs as they edge closer to the final later this month.

Kick-off is slated for 21.00 CET at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Roma

Hoping to clinch a second straight trip to the Europa League final, Roma will have to conquer unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen to make it to Dublin.

The hosts enter Thursday’s showdown after enduring another dramatic week of results. After securing a midweek extra-time victory over Udinese, they earned another last-gasp result when they drew 2-2 against reigning champions Napoli on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the newly minted champions of Germany have been on a tear and remain undefeated in the 2023/24 season. However, the Giallorossi won’t lack confidence given they dealt the visitor’s their last European defeat in the first leg of last season’s encounter on May 11th.

“We must remember that Bayer can be dangerous when they attack but we also have to attack ourselves. We have to win,” De Rossi said prior to the game.

“The tie is played over two games. Now we must focus on the first one and then we’ll worry about the second one. But without looking too much at last year because everything has changed since then.”

Adding, “It’s the same two clubs but two different teams and two different moments. They have more self-belief because they’re the German champions. They’re more aware of what a great team they are and the fact they could win a European trophy.”

In team news, there’s growing optimism that star striker Romelu Lukaku be available Thursday after missing Roma’s last three games due to injury. The Belgian made a partial return to full training on Tuesday, but De Rossi revealed he’ll need another day before making a final decision.

Meanwhile, the only other about Roma’s starting lineup is at right back. Rick Karsdorp is ahead of Rasmus Kristensen to replace suspended Zeki Celik, who was sent off in last month’s quarter-final against Milan.

Bayer Leverkusen

The Bundesliga winners are riding high with a 46-game unbeaten streak across all competitions, including a dramatic last-minute equaliser in their recent league match against Stuttgart.

With the league title secured, Xabi Alonso’s side have shifted their focus to Europe, targeting their first final since 2002 (Champions League vs. Real Madrid). In addition, they’re keen to avenge the semi-final defeat (1-0 agg.) suffered against Roma one year ago.

“We have big challenges: the Bundesliga might be done, but we don’t want to say it’s over,” Alonso stated during his pre-game press conference.

“We have big motivation in the Europa League: last year we played against Roma and they made the final. History has repeated itself: it’s going to be interesting.”

As for his team selections, the Spaniard is still waiting to understand if defender Jonathan Tah will be available following an injury he sustained during the draw against Stuttgart. Meanwhile, attacking duo Borja Iglesias (calf strain) and Adam Hložek (ankle) are out due to injury.

Predicted Lineups

ROMA (4-3-3): Svilar; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ndicka, Spinazzola; Cristante, Paredes, Pellegrini; Dybala, Lukaku, El Shaarawy

Unavailable: Zeki Celik, Dean Huijsen

BAYER LEVERKUSEN (3-4-2-1): Kovář; Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapié; Stanišić, Xhaka, Palacios, Grimaldo; Tella, Wirtz; Boniface

Unavailable: Borja Iglesias, Adam Hložek, Noah Mbamba

Match Center

MatchDay 38
26 May 20:45
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