The 2015/16 campaign may have only just finished, but Roma will already be readying themselves for next season and preparing to negotiate a vital Champions League qualifier. Reaching the group stage will be crucial for Roma in both financial terms (due to ongoing concerns over meeting Financial Fair Play targets) as well as making themselves a more attractive proposition to future players and sponsors.
Even though there is still a little over two months until the draw on 5th August, the Giallorossi will already have a fairly good idea of their likely opponents as – barring a very fortuitous run of results – they will be in the unseeded pot when they join the qualifying stage at the play-off round.
The qualifying is split into two sections in the third qualifying round and the play-off round, dividing league champions (Champions Route) from league non-champions (League route). As a result, Roma won’t face the likes of Olympiacos or Viktoria Plzen in the play-offs but instead teams who have finished second, third or fourth in their respective leagues. The five highest placed teams in each route in the play-offs will be seeded and face the five unseeded sides.
Other than Luciano Spalletti’s side, the sides who have qualified for the League Route are Manchester City (who have a co-efficient ranking of 99.256), Porto (92.616), Villarreal (60.085) and Borussia Monchengladbach (42.035). Currently, Roma’s UEFA co-efficient ranking is 41.587, the worst of the five teams.
In order to avoid playing any of these teams, therefore, Roma will need to hope that the four higher seeded teams entering the qualifying stages before them are all eliminated before they reach the play-offs. Red Bull Salzburg (42.520) enter at the second qualifying round, while Anderlecht (54.000), Ajax (58.112) and Shakhtar Donetsk (81.976) join in the third qualifying round. Unfortunately for the Giallorossi, these sides will all be seeded when the draw for the third round is made on 15th July, giving them more favourable draws against the likes of FC Rostov, Panathinaikos and Young Boys.
Short of Anderlecht, Ajax, Shakhtar and Salzburg all being eliminated, Roma will find themselves facing a seeded team in the play-offs. The Giallorossi’s last experience of European play-offs wasn’t a happy one as they were knocked out of the Europa League by Slovan Bratislava in 2011 under Luis Enrique, but in the same competition two years prior they recorded two 7-1 victories against Gent and Kosice (progressing 10-2 and 10-4 on aggregate in the third qualifying round and play-off round respectively). In charge for both ties, incidentally, was one Luciano Spalletti.
The fact that Roma finished outside of the automatic Champions League qualification places also means that the Primavera haven’t qualified for the UEFA Youth League, in which Alberto De Rossi’s boys excelled last year on their way to the quarter finals. However, they can still qualify if they win the Campionato Primavera, which concludes over the next fortnight.