Like Ike & Tina Turner or Justin Bieber & Selina Gomez, the Champions League & AS Roma have always been in a love & hate relationship. There were moments of sheer joy and fun, but also a lot of depressing stuff and eye rolls. The media surely loves AS Roma because they never disappointed and always deliver a juicy headline.
7-1 losses? Check. Stadium rows? Check (sorry about that, Frisk). Dramatic penalty shootout? Check (damn you, Tonetto). The oldest goal scorer in the Champions League? Here, have some Francesco Totti. Magical nights or pure horror, Roma fans have experienced both since the new millennium, especially in the knockouts.
Roma will host the Portuguese champions FC Porto on Tuesday, but let’s make a recap of all the previous results, memories, and emotions at this stage of the Champions League since 2004-2005. And, how very Roma, it has been a true roller coaster. No worries, for every year Roma didn’t make it, I provided a suitable song to dance away the heartache (FYI, that’s Roxy Music).
2004- 2005 Drown in my own Tears - Aretha Franklin
Okay, talk about a rough start. In a group with Real Madrid, Dynamo Kiev and Bayer Leverkusen, Roma got just one lousy point so yeah, they ‘narrowly’ ended fourth and last in their group. Luckily for Roma, Montella scored a 93th minute equalizer in Leverkusen or it would have been an historic low of 0 points. Also, throwing coins/lighters at a ref is not a good way to help your team.
2005 - 2006 I Disappear - Metallica
Because Roma ended eighth in Serie A that season, what did you expect? The stuff of nightmares. No Roma in the Champions League and certainly not in the knockouts. Praise Jebus Totti and De Rossi won a World Cup later on.
2006 - 2007 Roma -Lyon
Yes! The boys are back in town. Led by a certain Luciano Spalletti, Roma advanced to the knockout stages with some nice footy. At the Olimpico, Lyon held on for a 0-0 draw, but in France Amantino Mancini worked his magic and scored one of the finest European goals in AS Roma history, propelling Roma to a two-nil win—onward to the quarter-finals against Manchester United! Believe me, it’s best to not look up what happened next.
2007 - 2008 Roma - Real Madrid
Roma’s back. Spalletti is back. The gang’s all here. Totti, Pizarro, Vucinic, Panucci, Taddei, Mexes, Mancini, Perrotta, Juan, and Cassetti, … Seriously, it’s like a best-of. Perhaps Roma’s best performance in Europe after 2017-2018 (we’ll come to that later) as the Giallorossi not only beat Real at home but also AT THE BERNABEAU. Finally they were playing alongside the big boys with their heads held high.
Next up was that bloody Manchester United. Again. With a Rooney and Ronaldo in top form. They never stood a chance, the poor bastards.
2008-2009 Roma - Arsenal
For me the most emotional one of all knockouts. Yes, even after the Barcelona match in 2018. That was nothing short of a damn miracle. It was a great night because it was all just so unexpected and we were almost living in a dream. But this fixture, this one was so close. So so close. After being eliminated by Man U twice in the past years in the quarters, Roma was ready to make the jump. The players were ready. The coach was ready. The city was ready. This would be our season.
Although Roma started the CL with a 1-2 loss against Cluj, they won four of the next five games to end first in their group. Mission accomplished, part 1. Roma was on the right track. Arsenal would be a good test and it was time to finally beat the English trauma once and for all.
Arsenal won 1-0 in London, Roma won 1-0 at home. Then came penalty shootouts in Rome which ended 6-7 for Arsenal. It was truly heart-breaking after such an heroic performance. Remember, Roma’s defence was in total shambles. Motta, Juan, Diamoutene, Riise. And Juan left the field injured after half an hour, so Riise had to play centerback for Christ’s sake. With Filipe and Loria on the bench, that was the best thing Spal could do. But sadly it wasn’t enough. Tonetto missed his penalty and left in tears. Exit Roma.
Well, we’ll always have next season, right?
2009 - 2010 King of Pain - The Police
Wrong. Roma didn’t qualify for the Champions League for the first time in four years. Painful. Spalletti’s reign was falling down.
2010 - 2011 Roma - Shaktar Donetsk
Thanks to Claudio Ranieri, Roma returned to the CL, but ironically he didn’t even make the second game of this fixture. With Ranieri on the bench AS Roma lost 2-3 at home. By the time Roma traveled to Ukraine, Montella was head coach after Ranieri was fired for giving up a 0-3 lead in Genoa. The result? An even bigger beating in Donetsk, 3-0. Roma left the CL through the back door.
2011 - 2012 99 Problems - Jay-Z
CL knock-outs without Roma, as the Giallorossi had to play qualifiers for the Europa League... and lost. This time Slovan Bratislava was the bogeyman. Result: Roma’s European season ended in August 25, 2011. Ouch.
2012-2013 The Long and Winding Road - The Beatles
Roma ended seventh under Luis Enrique in 2012 so they didn’t qualify for Europe whatsoever. Not even a qualifying round. Needless to say, these were desperate times for Giallorossi fans.
And the misery wasn’t over yet...
2013-2014 The Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel (Disturbed’s version probably is more appropriate for Roma)
Might as well copy/past my text from 2012-2013. Roma was nowhere to be seen around the whole of Europe as they ended sixth the past season (you know, the one with Zeman and Andreazzoli) which wasn’t enough for a European ticket. Luckily Rudi Garcia was there to save us in Serie A.
2014-2015 You can’t always get what you want
Still no AS Roma to be seen, but they were getting closer again.
While they did trounce CSKA 5-1 at home and Totti scored in Manchester City, the Giallorossi didn’t survive the group phase. Bayern scored nine goals in two games against us while City dealt the final blow at the Olimpico: 0-2. Roma ended third in the group and was banished to the Europa League.
2015-2016 Roma - Real Madrid
Heeeey, welcome back! ... (AS Roma draws Real) … Well, it was nice knowing ya!
On a more serious note, at least we didn’t get our asses whopped by Real like we did against Bayern, Barcelona or Manchester United. The Galacticos won 2-0 twice and fully earned their qualification, with Ronaldo almost single-handedly guiding Real to the next round. Cristiano came back to haunt Roma like in 2008. That’s what you get if you sell Taddei and Vucinic.
2016-2017 Bad - Michael Jackson
Well, uh, this is a bit uncomfortable. Roma is once again nowhere to be seen as they already flopped in the qualifiers back in August 2016 against… FC Porto. Yeah, soon it’s payback time, bitches.
Let’s move on, shall we?
2017-2018 Roma - Shaktar Donetsk
The most recent one, and boy, what a sight for sore eyes! After topping a group with Chelsea and Atletico, Roma eliminated Shaktar thanks to an important away goal from Ünder in Ukraine. It was tight but ultimately Roma deserved to progress. A Dzeko goal at home was enough to qualify for the next round.
Thank God they did, otherwise we would have never witnessed the Barcelona miracle and the historic semifinal against Liverpool. Oh, and a lot of dollars that comes with it. Not that Monchi did anything useful with it though, like, buy some defenders and stuff.
Nonetheless, I think it’s safe to say AS Roma was the surprise package of that season and one of the most entertaining sides to watch.
Special mention: Bruno Peres’ toe.
2018 - 2019 FC Porto
Judging from Roma’s history in the CL, this one can go either way. Really, flip a coin and then run away as fast as you can in the other direction. Will there be a Real 2008 scenario? Or Shaktar 2011? Or could Roma repeat its trick from last season and just march all the way to the semies? We’ll soon find out.
One thing I noticed through all those years is this: When Roma’s around, it’s not gonna be boring.