Roma and Real Sociedad, both fourth in their respective league standings, meet at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday to play the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 matchups.
Roma has been experiencing a remarkable journey in European football under the guidance of Jose Mourinho. Although they had to take an indirect route to the last 16 after finishing Group C runners-up, they have shown resilience and determination to overcome challenges.
Their recent triumph against RB Salzburg in the knockout round playoffs was a testament to their grit and perseverance.
After a morale-boosting win over Dybala’s old club Juventus on Sunday, Roma is set to return to European football with renewed confidence. Gianluca Mancini’s long-awaited goal from the edge of the area against Juventus ended his personal goal drought. It earned Roma three precious points in their pursuit of a top-four finish.
However, Roma’s promising start to 2023 was interrupted by a disappointing loss to Serie A’s bottom club Cremonese just a few days earlier. The same club also knocked Mourinho and co out of the Coppa Italia, making the defeat even harder.
Roma Form (All Competitions): L W W L W
La Real has been one of the standout teams in this season’s Europa League, winning Group E ahead of Manchester United with an impressive record.
Throughout their six games, they scored ten goals, showcasing their attacking prowess. They won all three away fixtures without conceding a single goal, a feat no other team managed in the phase.
Despite their excellent performances in the Europa League, La Real’s recent domestic form has been underwhelming. They suffered a 1-0 defeat to Valencia and played out a goalless draw with Cadiz, a struggling team in La Liga.
Furthermore, they have gone more than 250 minutes without scoring a goal since Mikel Oyarzabal’s early opener against Celta Vigo last month.
Interestingly, La Real has struggled to face Italian teams, having won just one of their six competitive meetings. However, they are unlikely to dwell on this dismal record as they seek to build on their superb form in the Europa League’s group stage.
Real Sociedad Form (All Competitions): L W D L D
The Europa League tie against Real Sociedad is a crucial one for Roma. Still, it also comes at a time when the team is facing a grueling schedule. As a result, head coach Jose Mourinho may change the starting lineup to keep his players fresh for the upcoming fixtures.
The visitors will be boosted by the return of David Silva, who is their talismanic midfielder. Silva missed six games with a calf injury, but he has fully recovered and is expected to play a vital role in the Basque club.
In addition to Silva’s return, Real Sociedad will have Ander Guevara and Mohamed-Ali Cho back from injuries. The duo has been sidelined for some time, but their return will give manager Imanol Alguacil more options in midfield.
Furthermore, Aritz Elustondo is expected to be passed fit in time for the game, which means that Umar Sadiq will be the only player unavailable for La Real.
Roma’s predicted starting lineup:
Patricio; Llorente, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Matic, El Shaarawy; Pellegrini, Dybala; Abraham
Real Sociedad’s predicted starting lineup:
Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Zubimendi, Merino; Oyarzabal, Silva, Kubo; Sorloth
Head to Head
The two teams will meet for the first time in a competitive game.
Time, Date & Venue
Date: Thursday, March 09
Time: 05:45 pm, UTC
Venue: Stadio Olimpico stadium, Rome
Roma’s recent record against Spanish sides may need to be more impressive. Still, the team under Jose Mourinho is a different beast altogether. The veteran coach has transformed the club’s culture and instilled a winning mentality in his players.
Roma will be looking to keep a clean sheet and take the lead into the second leg. The fact that La Real have struggled to score in their last few games could give the hosts a psychological advantage. Furthermore, the visitors’ recent lack of goals will likely play into Mourinho’s hands.
Roma 2 – 0 Real Sociedad