On Thursday night in the Europa League, Luciano Spalletti’s Roma face a gigantic task, as they host Bruno Genesio’s Olympique Lyonnais at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma are strong on their home turf and are in need of a top performance, as they are failed to deliver in the first leg. Lyon won by four goals to two at Parc Olympique Lyonnais last Thursday, showing just how impressive they’ve become this season, especially against a Roma side who’ve almost been strong enough to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title. Mouctar Diakhaby opened the scoring before a stunning run and finish from Mohamed Salah levelled the game just twelve minutes later. A header from Federico Fazio put Roma ahead before half-time but the second half saw a masterclass from The Kids, Corentin Tolisso, Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette all getting on the scoresheet to stun their opposition.
Roma have lost just once at the Stadio Olimpico in Serie A
There’s bound to be a lot of pressure on Roma on Thursday as, despite being a strong side at home who’ve found some strong form for most of the current season, the two goal deficit from the first leg is bound to have a damaging impact. A positive they can take is that they have two away goals, which could prove crucial if they can push the game to a 2-0 win. Assuring they don’t conceded is not easy feat though, as Lyon have an overwhelming goals tally in recent weeks. Former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko was missing-in-action throughout the away tie, which was confusing after he had scored twenty-eight goals in Serie A and the Champions League combined this season. He doesn’t stay hidden for long though, and is sure to be out for revenge here.
Up until a shocking defeat away to local derby rivals Lazio on the first day of March, they’d lost just seven times from thirty-eight competitive fixtures throughout the season. The crushing loss had a far stronger effect than many predicted, as it led to a home defeat to third place Napoli, who they’d fought with all season to finish as the second best team in Italy. They then suffered the first leg result away to Lyon. Roma’s most recent game finally saw them back to winning ways, wiping relegation-threatened Palermo aside by three goals to nil, ending their frustrating rout of three successive defeats. Other than Dzeko, former Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah and tough Belgian midfielder Radja Nainngolan have been big players for the side, scoring six goals each.
Lyon have twenty-nine goals in their last seven games
Although Paris Saint Germain and Monaco have excelled most of all in France this season, Lyon have given them a run for their money, pushing up to a solid fourth place position in Ligue 1 with a perfectly capable chance of finishing higher. The January signing of Manchester United winger Memphis Depay has helped the squad’s attacking depth, but it’s not to say they didn’t have enough already, with Mathieu Valbuena, Nabil Fekir, Corentin Tolisso, Maxwel Cornet and Rachid Ghezzal all interchanging with his position to positive effect, scoring a combined thirty-eight goals in Europe and Ligue 1 this season. The goals have flooded in massively since his arrival, as they had thirty-four in the league at the end of January but currently stand with fifty-nine, almost doubling their tally.
The summer is likely to see a lengthly battle to keep hold of star striker Alexandre Lacazette, who’s been in the club’s youth system since the age of twelve. Clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have been linked and it’s easy to see why, with the French forward bagging twenty-eight times so far this season, with it only being a matter of time before he forces his way into the France national team. He’s sure to play a big part in this game, as he went unnoticed for a lot of Lyon’s home leg before shutting the tie down with a fantastic strike into the top corner of Alisson’s net in stoppage time. Roma still have time to qualify, despite being against the odds with most bookmakers. It’s certainly going to be the best Europa League fixture of the week, as the reverse fixture was last week.