We mentioned the long odds Roma was up against in this evening's Round of 16 Champions League clash with Real Madrid. Facing a 2-0 hole, Roma had the monumental task of at least levelling that aggregate score line on the road at the Santiago Bernabeu; a lofty ambition for any club in the world.
Madrid, of course, were never going to feel sorry for Roma and the manner in which they battered Wojciech Szczesny's goal all night was testament to Real's statement of purpose tonight: put this one away early and get ready for the quarterfinals.
And while Roma wound up on the wrong side of the score board, you can't really say it was due to a deficiency in tactics or effort. Though Luciano Spalletti tweaked his lineup a tad, shifting to a 4-2-3-1 head manned by Edin Dzeko, the attacking spirit was there, they simply didn't execute when it mattered most, right in front of goal.
Between Dzeko and Mohamed Salah, Roma missed at least four chances on net; four chances that ultimately made the difference between advancing and going home. For a while it seemed as though Roma would at least manage a moral victory, keeping Madrid in check at home, but in a matter of minutes, the Merengues showed their true class, as Cristiano Ronaldo and James "Hamish" Rodriguez put the match beyond all doubt in the 64th and 68th minute, respectively.
From there, the only noteworthy event was the 73rd minute substitution of Francesco Totti. Whether he returns next season or not, this may have been Totti's final appearance in the Champions League. For his efforts and legacy, Totti was greeted warmly by the Madrid faithful; a polite testament to what might have been for Totti.
But there's no use crying over spilled milk, Roma was never meant to win this match, though we can and should take solace in the effort they gave over the two legs. With a little better execution and a lot less Ronaldo, they may have advanced to the quarterfinals.
Nevertheless, the effort they gave is further indication that this club is heading in the right direction under Spalletti. Now, back to the matter at hand, qualifying for next year's Champions League, a quest that resumes this weekend against Udinese.