EUROPE: Europa Conference League
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue:Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
There is a sense of déjà vu heading into this game as one of the pre-tournament favourites, Roma, welcome CSKA Sofia, having faced them in the UEFA Europa League (UEL) group stage last season. Whilst they couldn’t beat Sofia then (D1, L1), Roma are strong favourites to win this group and are in high spirits after José Mourinho won his 1000th game in management last time out.
Roma ended up in the UEL semi-finals last season and convincingly won both legs of their Conference League (UECL) playoff to become Italy’s first entrants. If you need more reason to get behind Mourinho’s men, consider the fact Roma are unbeaten in 22 of their last 23 UEFA games held in Rome (W17, D5, L1).
Even though Sofia took four points from Roma last season, they still finished bottom of their UEL group whilst the Italians finished top. They’ll be contenders for second place in this group though, but Sofia will be hard pressed to begin positively as their leading goal scorer in the Parva Liga, Jordy Caicedo, misses this match after being sent off in their final UECL qualifier.
Despite their famous H2H antics last season, Sofia will likely struggle in this clash after scraping through the UECL qualifying rounds, including a tie vs Latvian opposition that they only won via penalties! They’re also winless within 90 minutes in six European away games and have only scored in two of their last ten.
Players to watch: Stephan El Sharaawy’s stoppage-time winner for Roma from the bench in Mourinho’s landmark game last time out may have earned him a starting berth for this game. Local lad Kaloyen Krastev could replace the suspended Caicedo for Sofia – the forward once had a brief spell in Italy with Bologna.
·AS Roma’s form in last 5 matches: WWWWW.
·CSKA Sofia’s form in last 5 matches: DWWWL