Roma are heading for fairly untrodden ground as they prepare for the first leg of their Champions League playoff round tie with FC Porto this week, but qualification to the group stage is a must for Luciano Spalletti’s men.
What sort of Porto team will Roma face in a couple of days’ time in their most important tie of the season? Their formation is always the same, 4-3-3, which they have used in previous seasons, even after Nuno Espirito Santo took charge of the Portuguese side. But let’s look at how the rest will work.
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.
Roma are out of the Champions League after succumbing to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, but while their exit may not have been unsurprising for long periods of the game it looked like it could have ended very differently. An aggregate defeat by a hefty 4-0 scoreline is hard to argue to be undeserved, but it’s certainly hard on Roma and combine the refereeing decisions from the first leg and the incredible amount of missed chances in the second leg and it’s certainly arguable that the Giallorossi had an opportunity to progress.
When Roma got drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions League last December, the consensus was that it was basically a walkover for the Spanish side. It’s a mark of how far Roma have come under Luciano Spalletti already that when the Giallorossi qualified for the last 16 they were jeered off by the fans, but after tonight’s 0-2 defeat against Real Madrid they were applauded off. For 90 minutes, Roma were their old selves: full of energy, tactical discipline and pride in the shirt – all instilled and restored under Spalletti’s charge.