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Europa League Draw: To Whom It May Concern

Manchester? Madrid? Barcelona? München? Paris? Nope, nein, non, nada. Hungary or Albania it is.

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

For those of you who missed the news, there was an Europa League draw this week and look, AS Roma was part of it! While Milan are still undecided about their European future(non, oui, maybe?), Roma currently is drawn into the pot of the second qualifying round of the EL due to their sixth place in Serie A... Which is pretty pathetic now that I think of it.

Second qualifying round. Europa League. It all sounds so very depressing. While in the last couple of seasons AS Roma only started their European campaign in August or September because they were automatically placed or had to play only one qualifier, the Giallorossi suddenly face European midweek games as soon as July. That’s a very short time span since the end of 2018-2019 Serie A Season. Don’t forget guys like Lorenzo Pellegrini and Zaniolo are still playing a tournament right now while Manolas, Ünder and Schick had international games not so long ago.

The club even had to cancel its American tour because of the EL. Petrachi and company better get their act together fast and assemble a more than decent team by mid July because Roma simply can’t risk losing out on the EL as well and embarrass themselves even more in front of the world. Mind you, this is a club that went from the CL semifinals to this doom and gloom in the space of just fourteen months.

Back to the EL draw: Roma are in the company of, check this out, Ghent, Partizan, Luhansk, Arsenal Tula (no, not the English one), AZ, Gabala, Jablonec, Limassol, Lucerna, Plovdiv and co. Yeah, true powerhouses. I guess they’re also big, bad football teams, aren’t they, James?

Now, the official result: On July 25 and the first of August Roma will play against the winner of, again, check THIS out, Debrecen-Kukesi. One’s the third best club of Hungary, the other one won the Albanian Cup. Yet Debrecen sounds like a Croatian sidedish made out of potatoes while Kukesi might be a hot Game of Thrones character that already went nude in the first episode. Anyway, I don’t know a thing about these clubs so Wikipedia might be your best friend for this task.

The best part? After this shit-show, Roma still needs to play two (!) qualifying rounds before they reach the group phase, where the ‘real’ teams like Sevilla, Man United, CSKA, Besiktas and Wolfsburg come in. So after Debrecen/Kukesi there’s a third qualifying round and then the play-offs. The road is still long.

Unless Milan withdraw from the competition (direct group phase for Roma, yaaay), we’ll have to suffer our way through all of this, but it is what it is. The players only have themselves to blame and for most of them it’ll be a tough and long season. If I may point out a positive thing: The management will surely kick it up a notch. Transfers, trainings, contracts; a lot of the homework needs to be done before August instead of last minute deals.

One more detail: The first game will be at the Olimpico and the return leg is in sexy Hungary/Albania. Which doesn’t mean a thing, Roma is miles ahead of both teams and must/will advance to the next round whatever the schedule may be. There are literally no excuses to exit Europe at this stage. A scenario like Slovan Bratislava will only put more pressure on Pallotta, Fonseca and co. and I think we’ve had our fair share of drama... For now.

For more EL updates, stay tuned here at Chiesa di To….uhm, Chiesa di.... Errrr..... Well, stay tuned here at Church!