UEFA’s third-tier competition, the inaugural Europa Conference League, will be welcoming the second leg of the semi-finals on Thursday. Apart from Marseille and Feyenoord’s clash, another mouth-watering match will grace our screens. Roma will receive Leicester City at the Stadio Olimpico with the tie at aggregate 1-1.
José Mourinho’s team kicked off the first leg in style when Lorenzo Pellegrini slotted in Nicola Zalewski’s pass to make it one-nil.
However, with twenty minutes remaining, Roma’s Gianluca Mancini, under pressure from Ademola Lookman, bundled Harvey Barnes’ cross into the back of his own net—the Foxes drawing level.
With a place at the first-ever Conference League Final at stake, both Brendan Rodgers and Mourinho will rally their teams to fight for a chance to clinch an end-of-season silverware.
Considering the tie is still balanced, bookmakers are having a field day coming up with odds for any possible game scenario. You can think of who might score the first goal? Or which team is likely to have one of its players sent off? Whichever case, the new betting sites available will elevate your football experience, whether you’re watching on-screen with your friends or in the voracious Stadio Olimpico.
The big question among Roma fans is what can the Lupi do to advance to the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana in Albania come the end of May?
Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini will be key
Before the second leg of the Conference League semi-final, both teams played their respective Premier League and Serie A games over the weekend. Leicester City travelled to Tottenham Stadium to play the Lilywhites while Roma hosted Bologna.
Both teams made considerable changes to their squads, with the Giallorossi resting key players such as Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini. The result was a dull 0-0 draw but Mourinho knows he’ll have to recall the services of the two maestros on Thursday.
Since his sale from Chelsea, Abraham has been a liberation, tallying 24 goals and 5 assists and still counting.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, is also knicking in goals and assists. The duo combo back in the squad will pose a threat to the Foxes.
Throughout the season, Leicester has been weak at defending set pieces—corners or freekicks—you name it. For instance, the 19 goals conceded from set pieces are the most in the Premier League.
With such a gaping weakness, the Lupi can capitalise on it, especially with the towering Abraham regarding potential freekicks and corners.
Most European leagues’ finales are drawing close, and fatigue has set in most teams. Of course, with fatigue, players are prone to injury, and the Foxes have been robbed of Wilfred Ndidi’s services. The highly-rated defensive midfielder is a lynchpin of the team, and the Foxes will miss his ability to break down and dictate play.
With such an important figure missing, the Lupi can aim to hit Leicester on the counter if their build-up play is somehow disrupted. Who knows? Maybe a few counters may result in a goal or two.
Roger Ibañez and Co. need to shore up the defence
The attack is only one aspect of the game, and to prevent a slip up similar to the first leg, Roma needs to bolster their defence. The onus will be on Roger Ibañez and his fellow defenders to ensure none of Leicester’s formidable forwards gets a sniff of their goal. Provided Roma maintains a clean sheet, the odds of them progressing will increase.
The race to UEFA’s different competitions is heating up, and the Conference League is no exception. With the winners booking an automatic ticket to the group stages of the Europa League, Roma will have to give their best if they wish to line up at the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana on 25 May.