Roma vs Leverkusen – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Thursday 11th May 2023
As part of our Europa League Predictions, we take a look at the first leg of the semi-final tie between Roma and Leverkusen. The visitors are becoming away day specialists in the Europa League – can they get a result? Read on with our Roma vs Leverkusen prediction.
4-1 (H) AET
Roma vs Leverkusen Preview
The hosts have hit a poor patch of form – two points from four Serie A matches – which has threatened to derail their ambitions for Champions League football next season. They now lie in seventh place, five points behind Inter, three behind AC Milan and are now behind Atalanta on goal difference. Jose Mourinho’s men will now face a battle to secure European football of any kind, though of course if they manage to lift the Europa League for their second consecutive European trophy, they will qualify for the Champions League group stage.
In the Europa League, Roma have been enjoyed considerable success at home this season. They’ve managed to win all three of their Europa League knockout round home matches – 2-0 over RB Salzburg in the playoff round, 2-0 over Real Sociedad and 4-1 over Feyenoord in extra time. Three very capable opponents, none of whom seriously troubled the Giallorossi. In fact, Roma were utterly dominant in the second half onwards against a talented young Feyenoord team, and they face another talented young team here.
Bayer Leverkusen have also begun to stutter domestically – this is perhaps a common theme with clubs outside of the elite who are involved in European football owing to the crammed fixture schedule as a result of the winter World Cup. In any case, Leverkusen’s outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season have evaporated, and with Europa League qualification incredibly unlikely (8 points behind Freiburg with just 9 to play for), they face a fight to hold on to a Europa League Conference spot.
As stated, Xabi Alonso’s men are developing something of a reputation as away-day specialists in the Europa League knockout phase. A superb 3-2 away victory over Monaco following a defeat by the same scoreline in the first leg in Germany took them to a penalty shootout in which they were victorious (obviously). A 2-0 away victory over Ferencvaros, who were undefeated in the competition at home against Trabzonspor, Crvena Zvezda and Monaco was perhaps more impressive than many realise. A 4-1 win in Belgium over Union St Gilloise demonstrates that Leverkusen are a real threat to lift the trophy.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Karsdorp, Kumbulla
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Lunev, Schick
Roma vs Leverkusen Lineups (Predicted)
Roma (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Ibanez, Cristante, Mancini; Spinazzola, Matic, Wijnaldum, Zalewski; Dybala, Pellegrini; Abraham
Leverkusen (3-4-3): Hradecky; Hincapie, Tah, Tapsoba; Bakker, Andrich, Amiri, Frimpong; Wirtz, Diaby, Hlozek
Roma vs Leverkusen Analysis
Roma Will Be Looking to Draw Leverkusen Onto Them
Following the tactical blueprint laid out for much of Jose Mourinho’s career, Roma will be well-organised and look to take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes in possession. Some have framed this as the battle between morally superior possession football and simplistic anti-football, but as is usually the case the reality is far more nuanced.
From a player’s point of view, there’s nothing simplistic about undergoing months and years in training geared around tactical periodisation, which places the responsibility on the individual to make the right decisions both in and out of possession – but especially out of possession, and with the right players it can be just as devastating as more system-oriented approaches.
What this broadly means in the context of this match is that Roma will primarily focus on getting the defensive details correct and attacking with the cards they have been dealt once the opponent inevitably makes mistakes. On occasion and particularly against the very best sides, this approach can go badly wrong if individual players have bad games or the more expansive opponents execute their attacking patterns perfectly, but generally speaking, it allows teams to achieve above their means. It’s no coincidence that Porto and Inter triumphed in the Champions League in 2004 and 2010.
Roma will, in effect, allow Leverkusen to have the ball in defence and will generally only look to engage them if there is a heavy touch. This enables them to both retain their shape and can force Leverkusen to overcommit in possession which essentially constitutes positional errors. Then Roma will look to take advantage in possession via fluid transitions. Much will depend on the talents of Paulo Dybala returning from injury, who is their most reliable attacker by far this season.
Interestingly, Leverkusen Will be the Same – but Different
Bayer Leverkusen under Xabi Alonso like to play between the lines, but in a rather direct manner once the opportunity presents itself. They do prefer to keep the ball in defence and midfield for a bit longer as they look for passing lanes to open up, so in that sense they are different from Roma who much prefer to take advantage of their opponent’s lapses while in possession. It’s similar, both approaches look to take advantage of mistakes, it’s just that one team does it with the ball and the other without.
Leverkusen will know what they’re facing, and they will look to adapt accordingly. They’re going to have to play in between the lines even more than usual with players roaming from their positions and trying to get Roma to take the bait to open them up. It requires a lot of patience, assuming that Roma are on their game and therefore don’t make it easy for them.
Effectively, Leverkusen will be playing with two sets of wide players, with wing-backs and inverted wingers/inside forwards. They have an impressive, fluid front three and if they’re able to get the highly-touted Wirtz and Diaby on the ball in dangerous areas then this will provide opportunities for both overlaps and underlaps from Frimpong and Bakker, assuming they start. This will require expediency in possession, which presents some problems in terms of giving the ball away and playing into Roma’s hands.
As with many Roma matches, this match is also exceptionally difficult to predict. Jose Mourinho’s approach is largely player-dependent, and as such it relies on player quality but most importantly, their consistency. This explains his career-long preference for senior players, particularly in big matches.
What Roma have not been showing is consistency in attack, and recently they’ve also been making far too many defensive mistakes. They’ve conceded 7 in 4 Serie A matches, with only 3 goals to their credit. The importance of the return of Paulo Dybala cannot be overstated in this regard. They are desperate for invention in attack – Pellegrini is a very capable attacking midfielder but not a prolific one, and Tammy Abraham has struggled to replicate last season’s form.
They’re fortunate in the sense that Leverkusen have struggled to make an impact on their opponents in their last couple of games. In two high-pressure games, they registered an xG of less than 1 in each match. As a young developing team, we feel that this match will probably be a bridge too far for them, and we think that Roma can keep them out at home and take a slim lead to Germany.
Roma 1-0 Leverkusen
Roma vs Leverkusen Betting Tip – Roma Odds:
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