Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen vs Roma

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 1/2

Bookmaker: 888sport

Bayer Leverkusen, undefeated this season and with one foot in the Europa League final, welcome AS Roma to the BayArena on Thursday evening to conclude their semifinal tie.

Meeting in the semifinals of the competition for the second consecutive season, Leverkusen’s strong performance in the first leg and the resulting 2-0 victory position the new German champions as favourites to reverse last year’s outcome.

Bayer Leverkusen

On top of their goal to seek revenge for their loss to Roma at this stage last year, Bayer Leverkusen have taken a significant step towards reaching the Europa League final by securing a 2-0 victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

Despite a scare when Romelu Lukaku struck the crossbar, Leverkusen created numerous opportunities and capitalized with goals from Florian Wirtz and Robert Andrich. This victory, their ninth in 11 Europa League fixtures this season, brings them within reach of booking their place in Dublin later this month.

Leverkusen’s remarkable season, which saw them crowned German champions well ahead of schedule, has been marked by several late goals, extending their undefeated streak to an impressive 48 games with a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Their recent successes have allowed them to match Benfica’s longstanding European record, and they now stand on the brink of cementing their place in history by surpassing the Portuguese giants. With a trip to the DFB-Pokal final also on the horizon, where they will face second-tier strugglers Kaiserslautern, Die Werkself have the opportunity to achieve a historic treble.

Coach Xabi Alonso’s decision to stay for another year adds to the sense of stability and confidence within the club, in what has been a truly remarkable season on all fronts.

Team News

Xabi Alonso opted for significant squad rotation against Frankfurt, making eight changes to the lineup that started in Italy. However, for the second leg against Roma, Leverkusen are expected to field a much more familiar starting XI.

With no injuries or suspensions to contend with, the Spanish coach is set to recall key players such as Jonathan Tah, Jeremie Frimpong, and Alejandro Grimaldo to the team.

Florian Wirtz, who enjoyed a rare rest during the weekend, will also return to the lineup. The young German forward, who scored in the first leg, has already amassed an impressive tally of 12 Europa League goals in his burgeoning career.

AS Roma

Despite suffering only their second home defeat in 33 UEFA competition matches, Roma remain determined to secure a third consecutive European final appearance. However, the prospects appear dim for the Eternal City side.

Under former coach Jose Mourinho, Roma clinched a 1-0 aggregate victory over Leverkusen in last year’s Europa League semi-finals before succumbing to defeat against Sevilla in the final. They lifted the inaugural Europa Conference League trophy under Mourinho’s guidance just 12 months earlier.

Current coach Daniele De Rossi, aiming to replicate his predecessor’s European success, has overseen a quarterfinal triumph over AC Milan and has suffered only four losses in 22 matches since assuming the reins following Mourinho’s departure.

Despite a strong start under De Rossi’s leadership, Roma’s offensive output has tapered off in recent outings, averaging just one goal per game over their last 11 matches. This dip in form has seen them slip to sixth place in the Serie A standings, tied on points with fifth-placed Atalanta, who have a game in hand.

Like Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso, De Rossi has committed to continue his managerial tenure into next season. However, Roma’s quest for a top-five finish in Serie A has been complicated by a recent 1-1 draw against Juventus, despite taking the lead through Lukaku.

While Champions League qualification through Serie A remains uncertain, the Giallorossi could still secure a spot in the tournament by winning the Europa League. However, an improbable comeback is required if they are to achieve the rare feat of reaching successive finals in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Team News

Romelu Lukaku, with seven goals in this season’s campaign and 27 overall, will lead the line for Roma, supported by Paulo Dybala and Stephan El Shaarawy in the attacking third. However, Dybala’s participation hinges on overcoming a minor muscular issue that forced him off during Sunday’s match against former club Juventus.

With right-back Zeki Celik available after serving a suspension, he is expected to return to the starting lineup, displacing Rasmus Kristensen, who is not included in Roma’s UEFA squad list. This also means there will be no place of Rick Kardsorp, whose mistake enabled Wirtz’s firs-leg opener, in the starting XI. Leonardo Spinazzola and Chris Smalling may both return to the starting XI to provide experience, though both defenders struggled against this opponent in Rome.

Conclusion

Roma’s away record leaves much to be desired, and facing Leverkusen, who are formidable at home, necessitates a significant upset for the away side to progress.

While the Giallorossi boast considerable experience gleaned from their recent European endeavors, Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen team, a well-oiled machine, is poised to finish the job they started last week and secure a spot in the Europa League final.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 1/2

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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