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Thursday February 25 2021
Roma's battles for Europe

A disappointing draw away at Benevento has made La Lupa’s Serie A position more precarious, but Owen Diana feels that progress in Europe can help put those dropped points in the rearview mirror.

There’s no time to dwell on an opportunity missed. Sunday’s stalemate with Benevento could come back to haunt the Giallorossi in the race for a Champions League place, but Thursday’s return leg against Braga gives them a chance to get back on track.

An accomplished performance in Portugal has put La Lupa in the driver’s seat. Although the tie is not completely done and dusted, the level of control the Italians exerted away from home suggests that they should not have too much trouble at the Olimpico.

Two away goals also help, with Borja Mayoral’s late strike potentially pivotal. Despite having a man advantage from early in the second half, it seemed that La Lupa would return to the Eternal City with only Edin Dzeko’s cool volley to show for their dominance.

Those struggles to make their numerical edge count were repeated in Campania, with the hosts able to keep a clean sheet even with Kamil Glik’s premature trip to the showers. La Lupa were denied a late penalty for a Lorenzo Pellegrini offside, but they can have few complaints given their failure to cause more problems for a team that hadn’t won any of their previous six games.

The capital club picked a bad time to lack offensive spark. They’ve fallen back down to 4th after Juventus’ triumph over Crotone, while weekend wins for Atalanta and Lazio have brought both sides to within one point of the Giallorossi.

The table has tightened, and Sunday’s showdown with a wounded Milan now looms even larger on the horizon. Dropping out of the top four for the first time since December is a distinct possibility if the Rossoneri cannot be vanquished.

That task will be made more challenging by the defensive injury crisis that forced Leonardo Spinazzola and the rarely seen Federico Fazio into the back three against the Streghe. Despite the decimated rearguard, Roma managed a third consecutive clean sheet in all competitions for the first time since early November.

A newfound solidity must be maintained if the Giallorossi hope to make a deep European run, and another shutout on Thursday would provide further encouragement before the tougher tests ahead. The likes of Manchester United and Tottenham are sure to be in the draw for the round of 16, and outfits of that caliber will take some stopping on the road to Gdansk.

Getting their best defenders off the treatment table will be crucial to any hopes of lifting continental silverware, but it’s too early to start seriously discussing a first trophy since 2008. With that in mind, Paulo Fonseca’s decision to field all his available A-listers at the Ciro Vigorito made perfect sense.

Star turns from habitual substitutes Amadou Diawara and Pedro in Portugal prove that there is strength in depth, and the 47-year old tactician should continue to rotate his squad on the continent for the time being. Serie A should still be the priority, but a few more European triumphs could change that equation.

@Forkicksblog

Have your say...
Football today especially in Europe is truly international. Some teams can spend large sums on players from within their home countries and from other european leagues.
Is Ronaldo rubbish, is Lulaku and countless other players who are paid to pay hansomely for the jersey they represent. Perhaps they can't compare to the legendary Roberto Baggio but many contribute to their teams success. It is a hard fact of life to accept change in European football but finding players to compete is essential.
on the 1st March, 2021 at 8:28pm
reason why Italian clubs are falling behind is because they buy rubbish foreign players that cant get in the clubs they are leaving "BECAUSE THEY ARE RUBBISH". No pride in the shirts they are playing for
on the 28th February, 2021 at 7:06am
If Italian teams are so weak and lag the rest of Europe why are they still playing in both the CL& El on par with most of Europe and England. Only La Liga has more teams still playing in the two tournaments. Juve, Lazio, Roma ,Atalanta and AC Milan have raised the bar and can compete with any teams. Furthermore in many cases the teams have spent far less than other European clubs, particularly Barcelona & Real.
The Italian economy still has an effect on team revenue causing multiple problems.
on the 26th February, 2021 at 2:57pm
seria a becoming weaker day by day.... they should wake up and compete wit elite clubs across europe
on the 26th February, 2021 at 9:15am
You could argue the 3 champions league teams had unlucky decisions against them but I personally hate these alibis that Italian clubs often put up as excuses for failure. Until Serie A can get the stadium situations sorted they're always going to be playing catch up to the rich clubs across Europe
on the 25th February, 2021 at 3:20pm
Serie A has been weak for 15 years and is currently at it's weakest I would say. However I do think the future looks brighter. As long as Inter can sort out the ownership problems they have a very good team which is only a few key additions away from being a genuinely good side on a European level. Milan are returning and again aren't that far away from having a competitive side. Juve have a weaker squad than in recent years but will always have money to spend and improve
on the 25th February, 2021 at 3:15pm
They're the only Italian side left in Europe who are in a great position to go through.

Milan should be okay, but not certain. Juve are marginal favourites. Atalanta are capable of scoring goals so that's not over. Lazio are gone, Napoli need a huge performance.

Year, after year, after year we see these clubs fail in Europe. 2 CL finalists in the last 10 years, and 1 (shamefully) EL finalist in 21 years.

And this season doesn't look much better, even with the Spanish teams waning.
on the 25th February, 2021 at 1:27pm

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