Opposed to Ajax Amsterdam in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, the Louve club is the last Italian representative, including the Champions League. A survivor steeped in paradoxes.
AS Rome, struggling in the Italian Championship, consoles itself with its role as the last ambassador of Italian football, almost wiped off the European map, with a quarter-final first leg of the Europa League on Thursday (9 p.m.) against the Ajax in Amsterdam. The continental scene is also the one where the many international Azzurri from Roma dream of shining in June, during the Euro: from Lorenzo Pellegrini to Leonardo Spinazzola via Gianluca Mancini, Bryan Cristante, even the outsider Stephan El Shaarawy in awaiting the imminent return of the seriously injured Nicolo Zaniolo.
One team, paradoxes
For the Giallorossi, this first season under the presidency of Dan and Ryan Friedkin, the new American bosses, is one of paradoxes. Roma are the club supplying the most internationals to Roberto Mancini and the last of the seven Italian entries still living in the European cups, after the zero point in the knockout stages in the Champions League (Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio out, after the ‘Inter exit in pools) and the eliminations of Naples and Milan in C3. But, in the league, the club of the capital is also the last of this same group of the seven great of Italy. In the “tournament within the tournament” against these six rivals for the qualifying places for Europe, Roma even completely collapsed with only three points taken (three draws) out of … twenty-seven possible.
Remaining on two defeats and a draw in Serie A, the Louve team is now five points from the Top 4 synonymous with qualifying for the C1, the goal set for coach Paulo Fonseca, after two consecutive failures at the reach (6th then 5th). “We will continue to fight, the team believes in it,” assured the Portuguese this weekend, who does not intend, however, to miss the chance that the Europa League also represents, the winner of which will be qualified for the next Champions League . The other Roman paradox is that of a team that plays well, sometimes even very well, as against Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 (3-0, 2-1), but which is also going through strange absences and hesitations. , on all floors.
The return of Jordan Veretout
On the field, with matches missed in large widths, but also outside with administrative blunders synonymous with defeats on the green carpet (player not registered during the 1st day, a sixth illegal change in the Italian Cup) and tensions in the locker room. In January, the striker and captain Edin Dzeko was dismissed for having disputed the choices of his coach before being reinstated, but without the armband. And in recent days, the press has mentioned new passes of arms after the draw in Sassuolo (2-2). In this context, and despite the return as holder of the precious Jordan Veret a month after his muscle injury, Roma do not really arrive as favorites in Amsterdam.
Ajax remains in 24 consecutive matches without defeat in all competitions, the club’s longest invincibility series since the historic 1995 marked by its final coronation in C1. With in passing four victories in four matches against Lille (16th) and Young Boys Berne (8th) in C3. Their last defeat to date, the Dutch owe it precisely to an Italian club, Atalanta, in December on the last day of the group stage of the Champions League. This setback (0-1) sealed the end of the adventure in C1 and sent Ajax to console themselves in C3.