For quite some time, many have questioned the way that Roma play in big European nights, often being dominated or even humiliated, but there seems to be a change, at least judging by the evidence this season. After watching the 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, I can firmly say this is the best I have seen the Romans play in a big European game for many years. They were outstanding going forward and played a big part in an exciting game in London.
Just a quick glance at the match highlights or at Roma fans on social media will tell you all you need to know about how they played, and coming from a neutral, they should have won this game. They may have found themselves 2-0 down after 40 minutes, but they were by far the better team and Chelsea could consider themselves quite fortunate to have such a large lead, at least before Aleksandar Kolarov’s wonderful goal to make it 2-1.
To be fair to Chelsea, David Luiz scored a peach of an effort and Eden Hazard was on the end of a clinical counter-attack, but both goals came against the run of play, with Roma controlling much of the game before the individual goals. Chelsea looked for all the world like the away team on their own turf. Eusebio Di Francesco’s side controlled the majority of the match and quite frankly looked like a side that could really compete amongst the big clubs in the Champions League.
Everyone this week will talk about how Tottenham Hotspur went to the Bernabeu and got a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, but Roma played a lot better and in some ways were a lot more impressive that Spurs, being superb in attack and causing the Chelsea back line a lot of problems.
Following their positive draw at home with Atletico Madrid, who proved this week that winning away to Qarabag is not to be taken for granted, Roma are looking good in their pursuit of qualification from their group. If they do manage to reach the Round of 16, this performance in London will be spoken about as the game where we all saw a different side of Roma’s mentality. They were brave, they were assertive and they weren’t scared to take it to the Premier League champions, something that very few spectators would’ve expected to see.
Of course, when you have a striker as brilliant as Edin Dzeko, anything is possible. His two goals were very reminiscent of a mixture of Marco van Basten and Gabriel Batistuta, especially that beautiful volley! In many ways, this was a coming of age fixture for Roma, with their new Di Francesco/post Francesco Totti era in full swing and showing that they aren’t a team to be taken lightly, regardless of whether their former captain has retired.
Hopefully the Romans can continue this form going forward in the competition, playing with this bravery against other top teams and really testing themselves, not shying away from any challenge. Is the best yet to come from this Roma side? Who knows, but I’m excited to see where this team goes this season.