Thursday, March 30, 2023

Prediction: AS Roma vs Real Sociedad

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 8 Mar 2023


Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: Unibet

The Europa League campaign is moving into the round of 16, and on Thursday evening, it will see AS Roma play host to Real Sociedad at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg of the contest between them.

AS Roma

Roma has already faced Spanish opposition in the Europa League season. They were in Group C, where they finished second to Real Betis, leaving Bulgarian side Ludogorets and Finnish HJK behind. In the knockout stage play-offs, they had to dispose of RB Salzburg, and they did so by beating the Austrian side 2-0 in Rome after losing 1-0 in Salzburg.

In Italy, Jose Mourinho’s side are locked in a fierce battle for top-four placement and the place in next season’s Champions League which comes with it. With 25 rounds now played, they’re the ones occupying that much desired fourth place, with a tally of 47 points. Only goal-difference separates them from AC Milan in fifth, with Atalanta sitting five points behind in sixth. Napoli top the table with 65 and appear to have the Scudetto all wrapped up. Inter are second with 50, and Lazio third with 48.

As for the recent form, only a Mourinho side could record the results Roma did in the last two matches, losing 2-1 away to previously winless Cremonese at the bottom of the table and beating a resurgent Juventus side, 1-0 at home. Before that, they drew 1-1 away to Lecce, lost the first leg away to Salzburg by 1-0, beat Hellas Verona at home by the same result, and overturned the Salzburg deficit with a 2-0 home triumph.

Speaking to the press ahead of the game, the Portuguese tactician said he struggled to find weaknesses in this particular opponent to try and exploit, but with everything we’ve seen from him over the years in mind, he’ll surely have a plan in place.

Team News

Defender Roger Ibanez will be missing from this game, serving a suspension in addition to a heel problem. The same goes for winger Ola Solbakken (muscle), and midfielder Ebrima Darboe (ACL).

This game is obviously important, but with the tightness of the schedule in mind, Mourinho is likely to make a few changes from the team that beat Juventus a couple of days ago.

Rui Patricio will be in goal, with Marash Kumbulla a possible replacement for Ibanez in the back line, alongside Chris Smalling and former Sociedad defender Diego Llorente. Wing-backs Leonardo Spinazzola and Nicola Zalewski are in line for a rest, with Rick Karsdorp and Stephan El Shaarawy ready to take their places out wide and Zeki Celik offering another option. The middle of the park will likely be the domain of Nemanja Matic and Bryan Cristante. Lorenzo Pellegrini and Paulo Dybala are set to provide support for striker Tammy Abraham.

Real Sociedad

Meanwhile, Sociedad won Group H ahead of Manchester United on goal-difference, with Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonoia from Cyprus finishing in the bottom two spots. Therefore, they weren’t required to play any further to qualify for this round.

Sociedad’s position in La Liga is practically the same as that of Roma in the Serie A. They’re also fourth, though after 24 matches in which they earned 44 points – 18 less than Barcelona at the top, nine less than Real Madrid in second, and one less than Atletico Madrid in third. Betis are not far behind, sitting fifth with three points less, while sixth-place Villarreal have 37. Just like for Roma, Champions League qualification for next season is the absolute priority.

The current form of the team under the command of Imanol Alguacil can be described as interesting, which isn’t a good thing in this case. Their last-six run started with a goalless draw away to Real Madrid, followed by a 0-1 home defeat to Valladolid. Then they beat Espanyol away by 2-3, drew 1-1 at home against Celta Vigo, lost 1-0 away to struggling Valencia, and drew 0-0 at home against Cadiz.

Midfielder Brais Mendez spoke to about this match, describing Roma as a great team.

“They’ve improved a lot this past summer with the signings of Dybala and Belotti.”

“We know how good Mourinho is in knockout competitions, and the fact that they won the Conference League last year is no accident. We will have to play at our maximum level to best face them.”

Team News

David Silva, multiple Premier League winner with Manchester City, missed all of those last six games with a calf issue. The 37-year-old attacking midfielder came back to make a cameo against Cadiz and is now in contention to start.

With midfielder Ander Guevara and Mohamed-Ali Cho also back from injury, and defender Aritz Elustondo a doubt at this point, the only player confirmed as missing for this game is Umar Sadiq. The 26-year-old striker suffered an ACL tear in mid-September and the there’s no estimate on his return yet.

With Alex Remiro in goal, Igor Zubeldia will likely pair up with Robin Le Normand in the heart of defence, flanked by Andoni Gorosabel and Diego Rico. Reported Barcelona target Martin Zubimendi and Mikel Merino will play in the middle of the park, with David Silva further up as the No.10. Tafekosa Kubo and Mikel Oyarzabal should be the wingers flanking Alexander Sorloth upfront.


Given everything these two teams have been doing lately, most of those who follow them closely believe a narrow Roma win is on the cards, leaving the tie wide open going into the second leg.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: Unibet


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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