Last season, Roma shocked the footballing world when it was able to make a Cinderella run to the Champions League semifinals. Roma won a difficult group that featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. Thanks to winning it’s group, Roma was able to avoid some of the big boys and draw Shaktar Donetsk in the Round of 16. This season Roma likely will face a much tougher opponent in the first knock out round, thanks to finishing second in Group G.
Of the eight group winners, Roma could possibly be drawn against six of them. Since they both represent the same domestic league, Roma can’t draw Juventus. Roma also can’t draw Real Madrid since both advanced out of Group G. With those two teams off the list of potential opponents, let’s look at the six remaining options.
Do You Believe in Miracles?
Barcelona haven’t been in their absolute best domestic form this season despite leading La Liga with 31 points. The Blaugrana also dropped four points en route winning Group B ahead of Tottenham and Inter. So, this may not be the Barca juggernaut of years past. However, one would think that the Catalans would be licking their lips for a shot at redemption against Roma. Everyone, including Barcelona themselves, remember this:
MAMMA MIA!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 11, 2018
This is how Kostas Manolas' tie-winning goal against Barcelona sounded over AS Roma radio. Epic! pic.twitter.com/7ucWYATjvq
With that in mind, Barca become potentially the most dangerous opponent for Roma. Lionel Messi and company would like nothing more than to vanquish the ghosts of the Olimpico.
They’ve Got Some Pep in their Step
In terms of form over the past two seasons, there may be no more dangerous team than Manchester City. The perennial Premier League contenders have taken their game to new heights since Pep Guardiola took over. Last year, City ran away with the English title and are off to another strong start this season. City won Group F and will be eager to improve on last season’s quarterfinal loss to Liverpool. Led by the two-time Champions League winning manager and stocked with talent, the Citizens are rightfully considered one of the favorites to lift “big ears” this season. City would likely pose one of the biggest challenges to Roma advancing past the Round of 16.
Double Jeopardy in Germany
The perennial German powerhouse isn’t off to it’s greatest of starts domestically; Bayern currently sit third in the Bundesliga, nine points off the lead. Die Roten also had their hands full in Group E, where they needed a last gasp draw in Amsterdam to secure their place as group winners. While they may not be one of the favorites to make the final as they normally are, Bayern carry with them plenty of Champions League experience and are never an easy out. They made the semifinals last season and would certainly be favored to advance in a match up with Roma and many of the other group runners up.
Dortmund have often played second fiddle to Bayern in Germany during recent seasons. However, this season the 2012-13 Champions League runners up have established themselves as the favorites in the Bundesliga. Die Borussen are currently undefeated in the German top flights and somewhat surprisingly topped Group A by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Atletico Madrid. Borussia may not be as big of a name brand or carry the same history as some of the other teams on this list; but given their form, they would a difficult challenge for Roma to overcome.
Probably Shouldn’t Go
After the arrival of foreign ownership in 2011, Paris Saint-Germain has established itself as one of the most successful teams in European domestic football. Les Parisiens have won five of the last six Ligue 1 titles and this season’s title looks to be well in hand already. PSG topped Group C, considered by many the group of death; featuring Liverpool and Napoli. However, despite all of their domestic triumphs, European success has been elusive for star-studded PSG. The Round of 16 has been PSG’s stumbling block over the last two season, which would give Roma fans hope that the Giallorossi could add to the Round of 16 blues for the Parisians.
TransPort-o Us to Portugal
While no group winner is an easy draw, this would probably be the proverbial ‘dream draw’ for Roma. FC Porto are perennial contenders in Portugal and regular participants in the Champions League. They currently lead the Portuguese league and won Group D with an undefeated record; only a draw with Schalke prevented them from winning out. While they may be the most desirable draw of the aforementioned teams, they are still a quality side. Roma will be wary of a return to Estádio do Dragão after the Porto sent I Lupi back to Rome with their tails between their legs in the 2016 qualifying round.
Which team would you prefer Roma to draw in the Round of 16?
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