Roma will aim to take advantage of debutants Qarabag and pick up some much needed points when they travel to the Baki Olimpiya Stadionu on Wednesday evening.
The Giallorossi have been placed in a very tough quartet, with Atletico Madrid and Chelsea for company, and arguably will face a very stern test to qualify for the round of 16. Many have predicted that it will be the Blues and Los Rojiblancos to make it through, and figure that Eusebio Di Francesco’s side will have to settle for a spot in the Europa League, but the capital club are hoping to upset the odds and have their say in the knockout rounds.
So far, however, they have picked up point after managing to draw with Diego Simeone’s side. There were no goals scored in the showdown at the Stadio Olimpico, but they have an easier task ahead. Qarabag are making their debut in the Champions League, and were dealt a harsh welcome as they were crushed 6-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Edin Dzeko, who was last season’s Capocannoniere, surely will be relishing his chances to open his Champions League account. The big Bosnian netted a brace during Roma’s 4-0 defeat of Benevento and grabbed another in a 3-1 win over Udinese over the weekend, whilst Stephan El Shaarawy also finally got off the mark, and this fixture will be a great opportunity for the Giallorossi to not just to grab some much needed points but also get some goals. For starters, Roma have not only failed to win their last seven Champions League fixtures, but also have failed to score in five out of their last six fixtures in this competition. That bad record is sure to come to an end on Wednesday.
Roma will be missing new signing Patrik Schick, Emerson, and Rick Karsdorp for this fixture. However, Diego Perotti still may be in doubt for this fixture after suffering a bad leg wound during the tie with Udinese and then a knee injury during training recently. Reports also indicate that Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan, and Kostas Manolas may be rested as well.
As for Qarabag, coach Gurban Gurbanov has no reported injuries to concern himself with, and given that they’re playing at home, it’s expected they will try to limit the damage as much as possible. A draw for them will feel like a win, but for Roma it will feel like a loss. Qarabag have no ambitions to qualify for the round of 16; even just being in the group stage is an achievement in itself. Plus, they may feel there are six points up for grabs with Roma, meaning that the Europa League is not out of grasp, and it’s not.
Simply put, the onus will be on Roma to make sure they follow in the stead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid and ensure that they pick up maximum points against the debutants from Azerbaijan, starting from this Wednesday.