Roma pulled off a three-goal comeback to beat Barcelona and reach the Champions League semifinals. Here are five reasons they can win it all.
It really was closer than it needed to be, but Roma ended up claiming a spot in the Champions League semifinals after all. The Italian side entered the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup with Barcelona down 4-1 on aggregate after coughing up a pair of own goals at the Camp Nou in the first leg.
As Barcelona proved last year against PSG, though, no advantage is safe in the Champions League. Edin Dzeko scored after just six minutes, giving the home side the momentum at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Daniele de Rossi converted a penalty in the 58th minute to pull the hosts within one goal of pulling off the improbable turnaround.
Then defender Kostas Manolas, the source of one of the two own goals in the first leg on the road, redeemed himself with a winner in the 82nd minute. Manolas also managed to parry away a Lionel Messi cross into the box right before second-half stoppage time.
Now the Romans are onto the Champions League semifinals for the first time in club history. There they will meet one of the bluebloods of European soccer. Either Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Liverpool await in the next round. None should necessarily scare Roma.
It has been eight years since Inter Milan were the last Italian club to win the Champions League. Here are five reasons Roma can end Italy’s drought in 2018.
5. Roma are playing with house money
Roma are one of the sleeping giants of European soccer. In the most recent edition of Deloitte’s annual club revenue rankings, Roma fell out of the top 20 for the first time in three years. Only against the types of teams they meet in the deep stages of the Champions League can the Roman squad be considered an underdog. But they’ll indeed be considered an underdog from here on out. That could be a good thing for the Italians.
First, they have the confidence of knowing they can come back from a major deficit if necessary. Roma would be wise to refrain from falling into such a deficit in the semifinals if they hope to make it to Kyiv in May. But after their shock turnaround against the Catalans, it would be hard to write off the Italians against any and all potential remaining opponents.
In Serie A, Roma currently sit in fourth place. They are one of a small handful of Italian clubs allowing less than one goal per match so far this season. In the group stage, Roma gave up just two goals. Taking own goals out of the equation, the Italians have conceded only eight goals in eight Champions League matches.
Entering the semifinals, Roma are the club with the least pressure and the lowest expectations. As the underdog of the final four, the Italians are playing with house money as they aim for a spot in the final.