So, you wanna know how Monchi and co reacted after Roma topped their CL group and advanced to the next round? I guess it goes something like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. You still have no idea? Well, how about this catchprase: ‘Show me the monaaaaay’? Yeah, Roma hit a (albeit still small) jackpot thanks to their progression and this whole moneyball thing may not be over yet...
AS Roma were matched with Shakhtar Donetsk, safe to say a relatively easier fixture than Bayern or Real. While the coming of Madrid or Munchen would mean more prestige and media attention for the city and club, if we purely look at chances at survival, Shakhtar isn’t a bad draw. Only Bazel would have been better, although their results in group A are not to be ignored. Only the toughest remain from here on out and so no freebies anymore. Every game will be feisty.
Roma actually got the best of both worlds: They didn’t draw a European heavyweight but they did get an interesting match-up: a team which likes to attack and entertain its crowd. Brazilian flair mixed with Ukrainian solidity. There’s always the element of surprise with Shakhtar. It’ll be two intense but enticing games so I expect a pretty stacked Olimpico for this one. The first match is in Ukraine though so Roma has a slight advantage there, although they can also get a serious beat down in Donetsk, thus ending their hopes for a first quarter-final since 2008.
To top it off, Roma has a chance to avenge their elimination of nearly seven years ago. Shakhtar scored 3 goals in 12 minutes to deal an uppercut to Taddei, Menez, Riise, Perotti and co. The game in Donetsk was even worse. Yet both teams have changed dramatically since then.
A Brazilian exodus has happened: Willian, Jadson, Luiz Adriano, Douglas Costa left, while that ‘Armenian guy with the difficult family name who’s now in Manchester’ is now...., errr, well in Manchester. The Brazilian kid Bernard seems their new crown jewel. Pyatov and Srna are the local heroes and pillars of this team. We all know how Roma evolved since 2011. Daniele’s the only familiar face (pardon me for excluding you once again, Lobont, but you’re not so special to me anymore since Alisson and his majestic beard arrived in Rome).
This is a totally different match-up and it can’t be compared to the one of 2011. Too much has happened. Who wants it the most? Who has the most ambition and desire to win it? Unlike Bayern-Besiktas or Bazel-Man City both teams have 50% chance of advancing and will thoroughly believe in doing so. Both teams were not clear favorites to progress from the group stage and they aren’t regulars in the knockout stage of the CL. This is a unique opportunity for Roma as well as Shakhtar to play a Cl quarter-final, perhaps even dream of more. Kinda like Monaco last season.
You can interpret the ‘more’ in various ways. More CL hymns, more star players who visit the Stadio Olimpico, more fans, more recognition around Europe and last but not least, more money. Or ‘monaaaaaay’ as Jerry likes to call it. Because after all this romanticism and talking about gala nights etc., money is what makes the world go round and boy, Roma can always use a bit of cash.
This club has a healthy ambition but they’re no realistic winners of this season’s CL, so might as well grab lots of cash along the way, right? The Giallorossi were handed a hefty group at the start, including Chelsea and Atletico. Yet they advanced in a stylish way thanks to same mature football and a coach who knows what he’s doing. Who are we to say they can’t repeat the trick against Shakhtar, a side which is inferior to the former two?
The jackpot already hit DING DING DING after Qarabag. If we actually beat the Ukrainians then damn, it really goes DILLY DING DILLY DONG, as former Roman Ranieri would say!