Tuesday December 12 2017
Roma revenge for Shakhtar

Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League Round of 16 is an opportunity for Roma and even Napoli to take revenge, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi.

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. However, it would still be at least lukewarm if Roma could strike back swiftly for Italian football in February and knock out the side that eliminated Napoli from the Champions League. That outcome alone, of course, should be warning enough for Eusebio Di Francesco’s team of the scale of the task it faces.

The more malign might point the finger at the under-strength Manchester City line-up that lost its final meaningless group game to the Ukrainians as the reason Maurizio Sarri's men were sent packing. The truth is, sadly, that they had made their own rather uncomfortable bed by then. An opening round defeat in Kharkiv looked like a painful blow at the time and so it proved to be. A convincing victory back in Naples was not enough to turn things around.

The Giallorossi, of course, are now standing toe-to-toe with Paulo Fonseca’s troops without the need to worry about other group rivals. With the return leg back in the Stadio Olimpico, they will have to fancy themselves to progress. It is not a simple tie - there are few at this stage - but it is one surely within the Capital club's reach.

The two sides have history in this competition, but it makes for mixed reading. Back in 2006, in the group stages, Daniele De Rossi was among the scorers in a 4-0 drubbing dished out in the Olimpico before a single goal defeat in the return match. Fast forward five years, however, and Shakhtar were good enough to triumph both home and away - a warning signal of the progress the club has made.

In that respect, Roma have sounded the right notes of caution and optimism in their reaction to the draw. They offered the time-honoured response of respect and a promise not to underestimate their opponents - particularly in the away leg. In private, though, they must have been plotting a path to the quarter-finals.

For, make no mistake, this is a golden opportunity for this team to confirm the good impression made in the group stages by going deeper in Europe's elite competition. To win a group that included heavyweights like Chelsea and Atletico Madrid sent out a message that they meant business. It would be a shame to spoil that now with elimination after what looks - on paper - a manageable draw.

Nobody, of course, should be taking anything for granted, but with the right degree of focus and determination, this is a tie that the Giallorossi can win and a deserved reward for earlier strong displays. That always comes with the proviso that they come through the winter unscathed and without serious injuries.

There is also that old Italian temptation to prioritise Serie A, should they still be in contention come the spring, but they owe it to themselves not to ease up in the continental clash that lies in store.

Italian sides don't really think of themselves as a unit, we know, but fans are allowed to do so. It would feel sweet to see Roma put paid to the dreams of a side that crushed the aspirations of Dries Mertens and company. They might not let themselves admit it in Naples, but the rest of us are free to do so. Come on, Roma - a spot in the last eight is there for the taking.

Have your say...
waaaa lazio are getting treated unfairly by VAR this has nothing to do with Roma but its not fair waaaa

That's a different topic that is unrelated, although worth talking about as well but still.. you guys are self centred a bit...

I hope Roma don't do a Roma and capitulate as they have a good chance of progressing, will be interesting to see what happens.
on the 13th December, 2017 at 3:14pm
1 important fact omitted is that the Ukrainian league has stopped for winter break and would not start until 16th of February meaning the first leg in Ukraine will be their first competitive game in almost 3 months. Huge advantage for Roma
on the 12th December, 2017 at 9:14pm
Football Italia is a disgraceful website. If they even bothered to watch the game last night they would be writing a blog about how fixed Serie A is. VAR was supposed to improve the standard of refereeing, all it has done is help referees to fix the league even further. For the last 4 games Lazio have had disgraceful decisions against them, all made using replays that only the refs and their sponsors can see. Without these incidents Lazio would be top.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 5:21pm
Knowing Roma i hate to say they will lose this one
on the 12th December, 2017 at 4:45pm
I don't understand how Shakhtar eliminated Napoli? OK Napoli lost the opening game in Ukraine 2-1, but they absolutely destroyed Shakhtar in the return leg. From what I saw, Napoli are a much better team. It was Man City that eliminated Napoli by beating them home and away. Man City also comprehensively beat Shakhtar at home and only lost in Ukraine by fielding a weak starting 11 since they already qualified and won the group. I think everyone is giving Shakhtar way to much credit
on the 12th December, 2017 at 4:15pm
Like Juve v Spurs, it's a tough one to call.

Roma will only be slight favourites, and Shakhtar played well away to MC in round 2.

And,of course, Roma have a habit of capitulating when things get tough. We'll see can they live up to the pressure in the knockouts like they did in the group.
on the 12th December, 2017 at 1:24pm
I'm sure I've heard of them
on the 12th December, 2017 at 12:55pm
who cares about Lazio?
on the 12th December, 2017 at 11:12am
Let's not forget Lazio is being treated bad right after a certain sitatuion occured
on the 12th December, 2017 at 10:34am

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