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Roma Defeats Qarabag 1-0, Advance and Win Champions League Group

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Roma wins a Champions League group that featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. Seriously.

AS Roma v Qarabag FK - UEFA Champions League Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

I’m not even quite sure how to start his off. After last season’s debacle against Porto in the qualifying round of the Champions League, coupled with yet another summer of upheaval, my hopes weren’t high for Roma’s chances in this year’s Champions League. Yes, it was great that Spalletti and the boys got the job done last season, securing direct qualification into the group stages, but when their lot was cast—thrown into a group with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and recent semi-finalists Atletico Madrid—things didn’t look so pretty.

Thanks to some fantastic football against Chelsea and some resolute defense against Atletico Madrid through 1 23 of the two legs, Roma put themselves in prime position to advance today, leaving fate in their hands; win and they were through, and with a little luck, they’d go through standing atop Group C.

Well, guess what happened? Exactly that!

I’m not able to pour over every detail of the match because I missed a portion of it, and hey, Roma won and advanced, so there’s no point in splitting hairs, but the manner in which Roma won is sort of indicative of the season at large.

Diego Perotti: 53rd Minute

This goal started with what is quickly becoming a hallmark of EDF football—succinct passing in tight spaces with multiple outlets—and finished with a gift from the gods, a deflection that bounced, almost as if divined, straight to Perotti’s head; a sign, perhaps, of things to come this season.

What followed (eventually) was the tensest 15 minutes of football we’ve seen all season. It had it all, one-v-one rushes on the Qarabag keeper, spectacular tackles from Roma and a would-be equalizer snuffed out by Alisson, but in the end Roma was able to put the clamp down on their Azerbaijani visitors, advancing to the knockout stages and winning the group thanks to the 1-1 draw between Atleti and Chelsea.

Conclusions

What else can I say? I was, in nearly every fashion, completely wrong about Eusebio Di Francesco. Without even doing research, we can safely assume that this was the first time Roma has won their Champions League group, and much of that is due to EDF; his tactics, his motivational skills, his even keel and his squad rotations. He’s been brilliant in every aspect as Roma’s manager thus far, and it’s paying dividends already, literally and figuratively. Simply by advancing, Roma have earned millions. Couple that with the stadium news and Francesco Totti brokering a sponsorship deal, and this has been a banner day for Roma.

I have nothing more to add. This is simply one of the best days we’ve seen around here in many years. Now let’s just cross our fingers and hope Roma avoids Real Madrid.