Verdict: AS Roma
Best Odds: 4/6
Serie A side AS Roma play host to Shakhtar Donetsk in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 looking to climb back from a 2-1 deficit last time out. The Italians will have an away goal acting as a platform to build upon but the Ukrainian giants are by no means to be underestimated.
A somewhat bizarre second half in the first leg at OSC Metalist stadium in Kharkiv left AS Roma disappointed as the 2-1 defeat did not paint a real picture of the proceedings. Giallorossi opened the account through the in-form Cengiz Under but failed to keep hold of the lead and ended up going goal behind in the second half after Ferreyra and Fred put the hosts 2-1 up.
In a game of two halves in Ukraine, AS Roma were left ruing their opportunities but the precious away goal could prove to be a huge advantage for them ahead of the second leg. the Italians head into this highly important Champions League clash on the back of a two-match winning run. Eusebio di Francesco’s men first succumbed to a 2-0 loss at the hands of AC Milan, just after the Shakhtar disappointment, but they did well to get back to winning ways with a morale-boosting 4-2 triumph at Serie A title contenders Napoli and a 3-0 Torino beating last time out. This mini-run will have come as a timely boost for a side that has yet to qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals in more than ten years. AS Roma will undoubtedly feel as if the time has come for the negative trend to be ended.
Defender Rick Karsdorp remains a long-term absentee due to his knee problem.
French forward Gregoire Defrel is recovering from a knock but could end up missing the third successive match. Daniele De Rossi is suffering from an ankle problem and could be out of contention as well.
And while AS Roma will have felt undone, Shakhtar Donets have thoroughly enjoyed their come-from-behind victory over the Serie A club.
Six wins on the trot stand as a giant proof of fine form for Paulo Fonseca’s men who will be looking for an outside shot at proving they are still very much a force to be reckoned with in Europe. The Ukrainians have been a notable force in Europe’s elite competition for years now but the ongoing struggles back in the homeland have seen the club move from home and lose some of its funding sources which many predicted will have signalled the end of an era. Shakhtar Donetsk are going against all odds and – most notably – against their not that great away form as they prepare to a trip to Italy. With two defeats out of the last three Champions League away matches, Shakhtar will have to be at their absolute best to stop AS Roma and prevent them from going through in the competition.
Midfielder Maksym Malyshev is struggling with a knee injury that’s kept him out of action this entire season.
Captain Darijo Srna has been given a 17-month doping suspension and will not be available until August.
Key Factor to Consider
- AS Roma are looking to grab their first UCL quarterfinals in a decade
- Giallorossi won five of their last 7 matches in all competitions
- In-Form AS Roma midfielder Cengiz Under scored 6 goals in last 7 matches
- Shakhtar lost two of their three away games in the Champions League this season
- Ukraine giants conceded only one goal in their last six matches, scoring 20 during that time
AS Roma will head into the Shakhtar Donetsk rematch determined to prove a point after a decade out of the Champions League quarterfinals. The Italians have invested a great deal in their team and Champions League remains their only chance of saving the season. The visitors are on a good run at the moment but their poor away form in the Champions League could be indicative.
Verdict: AS Roma
Best Odds: 4/6
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