Corriere della Sera (Luca Valdisseri) Luciano Spalletti, when he’s talking about football and not being hounded by an unhappy press, is almost always right. And when you compare to what he was able to bring to the Roma side that dominated their Champions League tie against an infinitely stronger Lyon side than this one, he wasn’t wrong when – on the eve of the game – he said that he had “become worse at everything”. That Roma side, in 2007, was spectacular and won 2-0 with goals from Totti and Amantino Mancini. This current side were beaten 4-2 in their Europa League Round of 16 first leg, bursting like a balloon in the second half after having gone in 2-1 up at half time.
Il Tempo (Adriano Serafini) A nightmare week, which has reawoken all the demons of the past. Their third consecutive defeat now threatens their European adventure, which could have provided a tired and demoralised team with the energy needed to keep going. It’s a question of maturity, but Roma aren’t able to answer it. At the end of the game, Spalletti didn’t try to hide it either. “We need to put a few things right and talk to each other clearly and in detail. I’m sure we can turn this result around in the second leg, but if we want to do it then we have to change some things. We can’t do it like that.” Like an unsolved problem that rears its head again when you least expect it, the coach was forced to face the same frustrations as he has in the past as his players failed to keep their heads from dropping. “When things go well for us we come out of our shells and express ourselves, but when things go the other way we are players that are very clean in nature.”
AS Roma Match Prgram (Tiziano Riccardi) The UEFA Cup/Europa League Round of 16 hasn’t been kind to Roma fans for a long time. For nearly 20 years, in fact. The Lira was still being used in Italy, Massimo D’Alema was Prime Minister and Francesco Rutelli led the Roman government. Their last success in this round came on 8th December 1998 in Switzerland, in the Letzigrund-Stadion, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Zeman’s Giallorossi drew 2-2 against Lima’s FC Zurich (the same Lima who played for Roma between 2001 and 2004) and led by coach Ponte (not the DJ Gabry, but the coach Raimondo). The draw was enough for the capital club to reach the quarter finals.
Corriere dello Sport (Valentina Clemente) The Europa League tie against Roma is becoming a kind of obsession for Lyon: not much is being said about it – people are talking about other things in the media (like the transfer market) – and president Jean Michel Aulas is ready to put the spotlight on himself if needs be, but the tension is palpable. The idea of defeat is starting to raise its head, a spectre in need of exorcism. History hasn’t been very kind to Lyon when facing Serie A teams and the statistics speak for themselves: nine defeats, six draws and seven victories in all. Even when playing at home, they have lost more than they have won (4 against 3, with another 4 draws). Lyon have been knocked out of European competitions six times by Italian sides; their only positive memory is of a two-legged affair against Lazio in the UEFA Cup in 1995/96, when the French side got the better of the Biancoazzurri by beating them 2-1 at home and 2-0 in the Olimpico.
Il Corriere dello Sport (Roberto Maida) They were hoping for Francesco Totti, but they’ll get Riccardo Marchizza. The Austrian fans will be disappointed by this major absence, as Totti is suffering from a muscle problem he hasn’t quite been able to shake off, but they may also be preparing to see a completely new Roma side, full of the club’s excellent youngsters – freshly crowned Supercoppa champions – as their first team ravaged by injuries.
Il Tempo (Alessandro Austini) Roma-Austria Vienna: how to ruin everything in 2 minutes and dive back into a familiar tunnel. Roma took 3 steps forward and then as many back, giving away another lead – the 4th already this season – in a game that was virtually over against a modest team like Austria Vienna. In the 82nd minute they were 3-1 up, Spalletti was making substitutions with Palermo in mind (even though he brought on two first teamers in Salah and Dzeko, as well as Palmieri) and then, in the 84th minute, without even realising it, they found themselves level – just as they do in the group, which they lead together with the Austrians.
Describing the Europa League as an opportunity is sure to make people either laugh or cry, and ultimately it is a continuation of the same sort of reaction to the elimination from the Champions League. But without wanting to put too much stress on it, and putting the obvious financial impact that the defeat against Porto had to one side, Roma have an opportunity ahead of them which shouldn’t be taken lightly.