Roma captain Francesco Totti could reach a special milestone should he feature against Austria Wien in Europa League action this Thursday.
As the Giallorossi prepare to welcome their Austrian opponents to the Stadio Olimpico, Totti, who celebrated his 40th birthday last month, would hit a century of appearances in European competition with the club where he has spent his entire career. After disappointing in their Champions League play-off tie with Porto, Luciano Spalletti’s men have taken to life well in the Europa League. So far, the capital club have yet to lose a game, rebounding from a 1-1 draw with Czech champs Viktoria Plzen by thrashing Kazakh outfit Astra 4-0.
In addition, Roma earned a hard-fought 3-1 win against Napoli over the weekend. That result sees the Partenopei drop down to third, whilst the Lupi rise to second on goal difference. Still, both title aspirants quite a ways away from league leaders Juventus, who enjoy a five point gap over the chasing pack.
The race for the Scudetto, however, will have to take a back-seat as Roma prepare to take on Austria Wien for the first time. Like the Giallorossi, die Vielchen have started off well in their European campaign. They have won all four of their road games this season, whilst scoring ten and conceding four. And current manager Thorsten Fink is no stranger to Roma. As a player, he netted twice during a 3-0 win over the capital club during the 1996/1997 UEFA Cup, and has taken them on four times whilst manager of Basel (two wins, two losses).
With Viktoria Plzen taking on bottom-feeders Astra, it goes without saying that whoever wins this game will be on top of Group E at the end of matchday three – regardless of whatever happens in the other match. Austria Wien, however, don’t have a great record against Italian sides. They have won just one in their last ten, and that was back in November 1983 against Inter – and that was not on Italian soil. Meanwhile, Roma have won their only two meetings against Austrian teams. Is that any kind of indication? Not necessarily. For the hosts, Edin Dzeko has been especially bright in his sophomore season with the Lupi. The Bosnian striker, who endured a rough last term, appears to be fully settled in his new surroundings and has netted an impressive seven league goals in just eight appearances, and will surely want to open his European account.
Will Totti get to celebrate his potential 100th European appearance with a win? Or will Austria Wien end their long-standing hoodoo against Italian teams?