Roma survived and at times thrived while playing in one of the most difficult groups of this year’s Champions League. However, despite finishing top of Group C (thanks to their head-to-head record with Chelsea) there is no guarantee that their next opponent will be a walk in the park.
It’s possible that Roma could draw one of six second place finishers in the next stage. Two of the second place teams are excluded; Chelsea and Juve. Roma can’t draw Chelsea because they played each other in Group C. Meanwhile, Juve is excluded because teams can’t be drawn with another team from their own domestic league this early in the competition.
With the draw just days away on December 11, let’s take a look at the six possible opponents for Roma in the round of 16 (In alphabetical order by group).
FC Basel (Group A)
When looking at Roma’s possible opponents in the next round, Basel seems like it might be the most desirable team on the list. The Swiss side had a fairly strong group stage (12 points), finishing behind Manchester United but ahead of CSK Moscow. This accomplished this by winning against Benfica on the last match day of the round. Basel did beat United 1-0 at home but conversely lost at home to CSK 3-2 in Basel so the results were mixed. So despite a nice result against United, Basel is far from a fortress.
The last time Roma faced Basel was in the 2010/11 group stage with each team winning on the road. Basel are no lightweight but one would think Di Francesco and company would fancy their chances in a match up with the Swiss side.
Bayern Munich (Group B)
Bayern along with Real Madrid would make up the two nightmare scenarios for the Giallorossi. The current Bundesliga leaders finished second to PSG in group B on goal differential after each team finished with 15 points. Bayern’s only loss was in Paris by a scoreline of 3-0.
The last time Roma played the Bavarian club in the Champions League was in 2014/15. During that Champions League edition they lost both group stage matchups to Bayern, including a 7-1 debacle at the Olimpico. A head-to-head would present the opportunity to exorcise some Champions League demons. However, one would believe that Roma would be hard pressed to win a two-legged affair with the German powerhouse.
Sevilla (Group E)
Sevilla (9 points) finished second in their group behind Liverpool. Even though Sevilla were able to draw with the group winners twice they only won two of their other match ups with Spatak Moscow and Maribor, both of which were played in Spain. Meanwhile they drew on the road in Slovenia and got demolished against Spartak 5-1 on the road. Monchi’s ex-employer certainly has had past successes in Europe recently (back-to-back Europa League crowns in ‘15 and ‘16) but this season they’ve had some trouble. In fact, their 9 points were the fewest among teams that progressed. Sevilla have also lost four games in La Liga and currently sit tied for fourth with Real Madrid.
Roma’s only recent history against the Spanish side was an August friendly that they lost 2-1 for what it’s worth. One would think that Sevilla wouldn’t be a terrible draw for Roma but buyer beware because they have loads of European experience which is always worth it’s weight in gold.
Shakhtar Donetsk (Group F)
Shakhtar advanced out of Group F which was won by current Premier League leaders Manchester City. Shakhtar finished second with 12 points ahead of Napoli (6 points); a team that Roma are very familiar with. When looking more closely at Shakhtar’s group stage it becomes clear that they make hay playing at home. Both Napoli and City (albeit they’d already clinched the group) fell in Ukraine but shut out Shakhtar in their home venues.
Even though Roma are a better team on paper, the serious home field advantage that Shakhtar seem to enjoy makes this a potential tricky match up. This may be even more pronounced considering the round of 16 falls in the dead of winter in February. Conditions in Ukraine would certainly be frigid. Roma may also want to avoid traveling there because of past failings. The Giallorossi last played Shakhtar back in the 2010/11 Round of 16 and lost 6-2 on aggregate which includes a 3-0 road loss in Ukraine. Brrrrr.
FC Porto (Group G)
Porto finished second in their group to Turkish side Besiktas with 10 points. The Portuguese side’s results were a mixed bag as they earned six of those points against a disappointing Monaco side. Meanwhile against the rest of their group (Besiktas and RB Leipzig) they went 1-1-2 for a total of 4 points. However, in domestic play, Porto is unbeaten in 13 matches thus far with a 10-3-0 record.
Of all their possible opponents, Roma have their most recent Champions League history with Porto. Few Giallorossi fans can forget the playoff round loss last August in which Roma suffered an embarrassing 4-1 aggregate loss. The Giallorossi racked up three red cards in the two matches which did them in. Many on the current Roma roster and fans alike would love nothing more than to exact some revenge on the Dragões.
Real Madrid (Group H)
As stated earlier, this would be one of the less desirable draws along with Bayern. Real had a very strong group stage finishing 4-1-1 with 13 points while finishing behind Tottenham (16 points). Los Blancos had a difficult time with Spurs, drawing at the Bernabeu 1-1 and losing at Wembley 3-0. Aside from the Spurs slip-ups Real won their other four matches, including both matches Borussia Dortmund; no cupcake of an opponent.
The last time Roma faced los Merengues in the Champions League happens to be last time they advanced to the knockout stages. In the 2015/16 competition, Roma lost 4-0 on aggregate but played Real tough. One would think that with the way results have gone for the two teams so far this season Roma would have a chance to better that result this time around. Real have slipped up a few times in La Liga this season as well. They currently sit fourth with four draws and two loses in 14 matches. Could their be some chinks in the armor this season?
Which team would you prefer that Roma draw in the Round of 16?
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