For the second consecutive season, AS Roma have advanced to the Europa League Round of 32, and did so in spectacular fashion. Despite dropping their final group stage match to CSKA Sofia, Roma won Group A rather handily, playing to a 4-1-1- (W-D-L) record while maintaining a +8 goal differential en route to a group best 13 points. Scoring three or more goals in half of their group stage matches, Roma proved too much to handle for their Group A competition.
The Thursday to Sunday European to Serie A turn around was quite a grind, but thanks to Paulo Fonseca's masterful squad rotation, the Giallorossi breezed through to the Round of 32, booking passage to the knockout stages after only four matches.
And now, thanks to today's Round of 32 draw, they have their next set of fixtures locked and loaded:
At a ceremony in Nyon, Switzerland, UEFA officials conducted the Europa League Round of 32 draw, one that has pit Roma against Portuguese club SC Braga, who finished second to Leicester City in Group G after losing out on the head-to-head matchups with the Foxes. Domestically speaking, Braga have been equally impressive, racking up 18 points through nine matches and currently sit fourth in the Portuguese league.
While Roma and Braga have never played one another, Roma manager Paulo Fonseca led the club to a 29-15-13 (W-D-L) during the 2015-2106 season, including an impressive +32 goal differential.
Fonseca spoke on Roma's next opponent earlier today:
Braga are a good side who did really well during the group stage,
They are a side I know well, just as I know the coach there well too, so you can trust me when I say it will be a tough tie - because I know what I’m talking about.
They are a young side but they play good football. Braga are an ambitious club making good progress and we cannot make the mistake of thinking that qualifying for the next round will be straightforward.
I’m not hiding the fact that it will be a special game for me personally, considering I coached there and I have a lot of friends at the club too
The two fixtures will take place in February, with Roma making the trek to Portugal on February 18th before hosting the return leg in Rome on the 25th.
The full Round of 32 matchups can be seen below: