Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Thursday 19th March, 2015, 17:30 GMT
Thursday’s Round of 16 Europa League return leg marks the fifth meeting this season between Roma and Fiorentina, the fourth since January alone. Coming from behind to grab an equalizer against Fiorentina last week in Firenze, Roma will look to take advantage of that crucial away goal in the second leg of this Round of 16 matchup. The last four fixtures have seen a win each for Roma and Fiorentina while the other two matches have finished in a draw. Fiorentina have already beaten Roma in a knockout tie in the capital this season, in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. On 3 February, a Mario Gomez double at the Stadio Olimpico gave Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina a 2-0 win a the coach’s first against his old club with the Viola. Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella won the 2000/01 Serie A title with Roma, and scored 83 goals in all competitions for the club from 1997a 2008. He also started his coaching career at Roma. Initially a youth coach, he replaced Claudio Ranieri at the helm in February 2011 and helped them to finish sixth in the league.
Team news and tactical brief
The all-Italian tie is evenly poised after last week’s 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Hosts Fiorentina took the lead in the 17th minute through Josip Ilicic, but it wouldn’t be enough for victory as Seydou Keita equalised an hour later for a crucial Roma away goal. It means that Rudi Garcia’s side need a goalless draw or better at home to advance to the quarter-finals, but they do not enter the match in good form. Radja Nainggolan is suspended and with Kevin Strootman sidelined through injury, Rudi Garcia is expected to start with a midfield three of Seydou Keita, Alessandro Florenzi and Miralem Pjanic. Leandro Castan is injured, while Victor Ibarbo and Maicon are both doubts.
The Giallorossi have won just three of their last 15 games in all competitions and fallen behind Juventus in the Serie A title race following a five-game winless domestic run. They have drawn most of their games of late, but on Monday saw their 16-game unbeaten league run, which stretched back to November 1 last year, ended at home by Sampdoria. Garcia will be without the suspended Radja Nainggolan after he was booked in the first leg while Francesco Totti should keep his place in attack, but Adem Ljajic could start in place of Juan Iturbe, who underwhelmed against Sampdoria on Monday night.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):De Sanctis(Gk); Torosidis, Mapou, Manolas, Holebas; Pjanic, Keita, Florenzi; Gervinho, Totti, Ljajic
La Viola, meanwhile, will be confident of grabbing an away goal as they have scored in 13 of their last 14 Europa League fixtures, while Roma have gone 21 matches in European competition without a clean sheet. Vincenzo Montella’s outfit are one of the sides on second-placed Roma’s tail in Serie A and will enter Thursday’s game on the back of a last-gasp win over AC Milan on Monday. Neto is expected to start in between the sticks once more, with Vincenzo Montella possibly starting in a 4-3-3 formation for this one. Nenad Tomovic should keep his starting spot in place of Micah Richards who started against Milan on Monday night. The Spaniard Joaquin impressed from the bench and is pushing for a starting berth.
Former Roma player Montella will be without key forward duo Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi, meaning that Ilicic should again lead the line. If Fiorentina avoid defeat at the Stadio Olimpico, they will become the first side to go 10 successive away matches in the Europa League proper without losing. Montella will be without injured trio Giuseppe Rossi, Federico Bernardeschi and Mario Gomez, while Khouma Babacar and Stefan Savic are doubts.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):Neto(Gk); Tomovic, Rodriguez, Basanta, Alonso; Badelj, Fernandez, Borja Valero; Salah, Babacar, Ilicic
- Roma’s only previous European encounters with Italian opponents were in the final of the 1990/91 UEFA Cup, where a 1-0 home win failed to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against FC Internazionale Milano.
- Having lost over two legs to Juventus in the 1989/90 UEFA Cup final (3-1 a, 0-0 h), Fiorentinabowed out to their Serie A rivals again in last season’s round of 16 (1-1 a, 0-1 h). Their record in five European games against Italian sides is now W0 D3 L2.
- A 0-0 draw or a victory would take Roma through, but they have not won in three European home games (D1 L2) since a 5-1 defeat of PFC CSKA Moskva in their opening UEFA Champions League group stage fixture this season. They have gone 12 games without a clean sheet in European games in Rome, since beating PFC CSKA Sofia 2-0 in October 2009.
- By contrast, Fiorentina are unbeaten in ten European away games (W7 D3), failing to score in only one of those matches a a 0-0 draw at FC Pa os de Ferreira in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage. The last nine of those fixtures have been in the competition proper, meaning the Viola are one away from breaking the tournament record for successive away matches without defeat.
- Roma last reached the round of 16 in this competition in 2005/06, when they were beaten by Middlesbrough FC on away goals. They were eliminated in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 1992/93, 1995/96 and 1998/99.
- Fiorentina last made it through the last 16 in 2007/08, when they were beaten by Rangers FC on penalties in the semi-finals.
Players to Watch Out For
Gervinho (AS Roma)
Gervinho has looked really flat after coming back from the AFCON. An amazing sprinter with the ball combined with his dribbling skills made him an impossible player to defend against at the start of this season but like the rest of his teammates he is suffering on the pitch as well as opponent teams are sitting back and choking the spaces. Gervinho was the protagonist this season for Rudi Garciaa s side and this is the game where he will be looking to make an even greater contribution to help Roma achieve something significant.
Mohamed Salah (Fiorentina)
The Egyptiana s introduction to Italian football since his loan move from Chelsea in January has been quite simply astounding. Salah has been phenomenal for the Viola, making it seem as Juan Cuadrado never left in the opposite direction. His most recent feats include scoring the winner away at Inter, a brace against Juventus in the Coppa Italia and providing the assist for Josip Ililica s goal versus Roma in the Europa League.
AS Roma 1a 1 Fiorentina
Roma come into this fixture on the back of a disappointing 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Sampdoria on Monday night. The loss was only Rudi Garcia’s second in Serie A at the Olimpico and the fans, who booed the players off following the full time whistle, will demand a better display tonight. Fiorentina’s late 2-1 win over Milan moved them to within 5 points of Roma and will have boosted morale coming into this important fixture. The Viola handed the hosts the initiative by conceding at home in the first leg, while they too need an much-improved showing having fallen to a poor 4-0 defeat to Lazio on their last trip to the capital. Roma have been hugely underwhelming recently and will miss the tenacity Radja Nainggolan brings to the midfield. This could result in a draw, with extra time and penalties on the cards.
Blast From the Past
Fiorentina have already beaten Roma in a knockout tie in the capital this season, in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. A Mario Gomez double at the Stadio Olimpico gave Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina a 2-0 win a the coach’s first against his old club with the Viola.